Elias says a lot about Love

Published 12:37 pm Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Column: Second Thoughts

The Timberwolves’ Kevin Love is one of the most talked about players in the NBA this season. The All-Star’s MVP-worthy play has caused most of the chatter, but you need to look beyond his impressive stat line to understand just how historic his season and young career has been.

For that we have Elias.

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Elias Sports Bureau, Inc. is the official statistician for the nation’s top professional sports leagues, including the NBA. The bureau publishes the “Elias Book of Baseball Records” but is most accessible through ESPN.com, where it posts a list called “Elias Says …” containing each day’s most interesting stats.

Love, not surprisingly, is usually the headliner.

Coming into tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Love is averaging 26.3 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. He is the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer behind only Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, and its second-leading rebounder behind Dwight Howard.

Love is the league’s most efficient big man and no longer just a stat filler on a bad team. Thanks to Elias, we know that Love’s collective body of work, at just 23 years old, is becoming mind-boggling.

Let’s take a look at what Elias has said this month about Love.

Elias said Love recorded his seventh career 30-point, 20-rebound game in Sunday’s win over the Denver Nuggets. That amount matched the total of all other players in Timberwolves history combined (Kevin Garnett did it five times and Al Jefferson twice). More impressively, he now has more 30/20 games in four years than these Hall of Famers did in their entire careers: David Robinson (5), Karl Malone (5) and Larry Bird (5). Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard have had six 30/20 games, and if you want to argue who the best power forward in the NBA is, Blake Griffin has zero.

Elias said in the Timberwolves’ double OT loss to the Thunder on Friday, Love became only the third player, joining Bryant and Ray Allen, in the last 25 years to record at least 50 points, 10 rebounds and seven 3-pointers in a game.

Elias said Love recorded his seventh game this season with 30 points and 15 rebounds (he now has eight) in a win over Golden State on March 19. No other player in the NBA has more than one.

Elias said from March 3-7, Love became the first player in NBA history to record at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and three 3-pointers in three consecutive games.

Love is a bona fide MVP candidate and his 3-point shooting ability has turned him into the most versatile player in the NBA. But don’t think he’s gone soft. Love is the league’s top workhorse, averaging an NBA leading 39.8 minutes per game. He still mixes up inside, too. He has made 323 free throws this season, just six shy of the league-leader Bryant’s 329.