Today there was breaking news that Forward Kevin Love has agreed to a 4 year $120-million dollar extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Love is a 5x All Star who averaged 17 PPG last season with 9 assists on 41% 3PT shooting. The Cavs post LeBron James strategy is now clear—to try and win now. How can they expect to win in today’s NBA without LeBron? What is the logic behind the Love signing?
I recently started reading “The Book of Basketball” by Bill Simmons. Although I just began, I can already recommend it due to the great stories and hilarious footnotes. Also, there is great basketball analysis. That is important too.
In the first chapter, Simmons shares a unique conversation he shared with NBA legend Isiah Thomas (not to be confused with Cavs legend Isaiah Thomas). Thomas was the star guard for the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Simmons always wondered how Thomas’s Pistons were able to compete with so many star-studded teams. Simmons labeled this type of phenomenon as “the Secret of Basketball.”
Isiah explains to Simmons that “the Secret of Basketball is that it’s not about basketball.” Head scratcher right. Simmons explains how these Pistons teams obviously had talent but it didn’t stop there. “They won because they liked each other, knew their roles, ignored statistics, and valued winning over everything else. “
In my eyes, the Cavs are modeling their team with the “Secret of Basketball” in mind. The Cavs no longer have the best player in the world and need to find a new way to win. The name of Kevin Love is synonymous with all of the descriptions that Simmons listed. He is the perfect cornerstone for these new Cavs. 1. He is a man that prides himself on team chemistry. Love is famously known by his teammates for constantly throwing wine tasting parties at his home. 2. He is willing to sacrifice his personal success for the success of the team. Since leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves, Love was either the third or second option. He never complained once and learned how to still play at an All-Star caliber level.
The 2018-2019 Cavs are also equipped with first round pick PG Collin Sexton of Alabama. Sexton showed flashes of greatness during the NBA Summer League and should be a great pick and roll partner with Love. The rest of the Cavs roster is filled with many familiar names including George Hill, Kyle Korver, Tristan Thompson, Larry Nance, and J.R. Smith. These veterans have heard the criticism of their lack of contributions to last year’s team. I feel they will play with a chip on their shoulder to try to prove the critics wrong.
The Cavs have many characteristics that the “Secret of Basketball” requires. They definitely have talent. They definitely have team oriented guys. The main key will be how they come together. That task is up to Kevin Love. Finals? Probably not. Playoffs? More probable? The secret will only become known over time.