Love, the PF, the starter

The CH board seems to be teeming over with dissatisfaction of Kevin Love. The basis for this dislike, from an on the court standpoint, seems to come down to two points:

1. You can't win with Love as a starting PF

2. You can't win with Love starting, period. 

Of course, at face value, these are sort of ludicrous arguments. You wouldn't be sinning against nature by saying "you can't win with Derek Fisher as your starting PG", but the Lakers proved you can. This statement, of course, isn't a reflection of Fisher's abilities as much as it is the other players wearing purple and gold uniforms. Whether you can win with player X is a meaningless statement.

However, the real crux of these diatribes against Love originate from the fact that people on this board, in the local media and national media think he's a pretty good player, that Love haters don't agree. 

Love haters want to argue that he's not a franchise player, to which I think most people with a brain would say "no sh|t sherlock." Nobody with an ounce of common sense thinks he's a player who will end up on the same caliber in the annals of NBA history as Moses Malone, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and other of the greatest PFs of all time. But just because he's not one of the greatest of NBA players to ever put on a uniform doesn't mean he's worthless and doesn't mean he can't play an important role and be a valuable contributor to a winning team. 

In an attempt to make a meaningful evaluation of love, here is a list of prominent NBA power forwards. While obviously totally subjective, let's say the Wolves swapped Love for one of these players. Would this player represent a clear unambiguous upgrade or downgrade?

For the purposed of argument, we're going to keep contract out of the discussion. For instance, it is highly debatable whether David Lee is worth the contract he got and that naturally factors into a player's worth. We're not going to evaluate the fact that Lee is overpaid or Love is underpaid.

We're also going to factor out age to an extent. For instance, Kevin Love is going to probably improve as a player while it is likely Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett is going to decline. But because we're leaving out contracts (we're just trying to say can Love start or can you win with him) we're going to evaluate a snapshot of today. 

Lastly, we're going to try to be somewhat liberal as far as positioning goes. For instance, as Antawn Jamison a PF? He could play it. Is Tim Duncan a PF? He could play it. Because of coaching systems and team needs, players often don't necessarily fit neatly into the 1-2-3-4-5 position holes. I'm going to try to keep this to players who could conceivably start at PF. 

Players Who Would Represent a Clear Upgrade From Love on 8/29
Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Al Horford, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, David West, Tim Duncan, 

Players Who Would Represent a Clear Downgrade From Love on 8/29

Troy Murphy, Anthony Randolph, Elton Brand, Amir Johnson, Chris Wilcox, Tyler Hansborough, Drew Gooden, Tyrus Thomas, Andray Blatche, Brandan Wright, Hakim Warrick, Carl Landry, Luis Scola, Kenyon Martin, Nene Hilario, Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka

Players on the Bubble

Kevin Garnett, Antawn Jamison, Josh Smith, Blake Griffin, Zach Randolph, Al JeffersonLaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, David Lee

Depending on how many bubble players you think are better than Love, Love is between the 9th and 18th best PF in the league. 

We'll assume that teams have either a 2.5 man PF rotation (some teams have 2, some teams have 3) - Meaning there are 75 PFs in the league.

This would put him in approximately the top 15-25th percentile of power forwards in the NBA. 

Bottom line, whether you can win with Love starting of course depends on a lot of factors not in his control. By any sort of conventional definition, however, dude's a starter caliber player, not a bench player. 

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