FanPost

Is Kevin Love a "Winner"?

When you look at the record of this team during Kevin Love's time here, it's clear to see that he's lost more games than he's won.  But if you're only counting wins and losses, then everybody on this team is a loser.  What happens if you start looking at W-L record less and start looking at the games in a different light?

I've looked at the statistics from this season for Kevin Love (a supposed "loser") and Carmelo Anthony (a supposed "winner") to determine whether either deserves the public perception they have.

For reference, here are Love's per-36 numbers for the entire season:
20.9 points; 15.3 rebounds; 2.4 assists; 2.2 turnovers - team record 10 - 30.

For reference, here are Anthony's per-36 numbers for the entire season:
24.5 points; 8.4 rebounds; 3.1 assists; 3 turnovers - team record 22 - 16 (4 - 4 in games where Anthony plays very little or not at all; which gives them a 60% win rate with him and a 50% win rate without him).


Here's a comparison of Love's numbers I've grouped into 6 categories:

Love's per-36 numbers during losses of 10 points or more (i.e: blowout losses):

19.2 points; 14.9 rebounds; 2 assists; 2.4 turnovers - 13 games.

Love's per-36 numbers during 6 - 9 point losses (i.e: middling losses):

20.5 points; 14.4 rebounds; 2.5 assists; 2 turnovers - 7 games.

Love's per-36 numbers during overtime losses and losses of fewer than 5 points (i.e: winnable games that resulted in losses):

22.7 points; 16.3 rebounds; 2.3 assists; 2.5 turnovers - 10 games.

Love's per-36 numbers during wins of fewer than 5 points:

18.9 points; 15.2 rebounds; 2.4 assists; 2.4 turnovers - 2 games.

Love's per-36 numbers during 6 - 9 point wins:

20.3 points; 20.9 rebounds; 2.6 assists; 2.1 turnovers - 2 games.

Love's per-36 numbers during wins by 10 or more points:

23.8 points; 13.8 rebounds; 2.8 assists; 2.1 turnovers - 6 games.

The first thing that jumps out at me from these statistics is that the team's chances of winning improve as Love's production improves - no surprise there.  I notice that Love's statistics in close losses look more like his statistics in middling to blowout wins than they look like his statistics during middling and blowout losses - once again, not really surprising.  One other point of interest is that his rebounds were lowest in games the Wolves won by 10 or more points - I would guess this is the result of some combination of other players stepping up their rebounding efforts and Love getting fewer offensive rebounds because the team wasn't missing as many shots.  I also think the Wolves record in games decided by fewer than 5 points is worth noting as it is an abysmal 2 - 10.

 

Here's a comparison of Anthony's numbers grouped into the same categories:

Anthony's per-36 numbers during losses of 10 points or more (i.e: blowout losses):

24.2 points; 6.2 rebounds; 1.4 assists; 4.2 turnovers - 4 games (Including 1 game in which Anthony did not play at all).

Anthony's per-36 numbers during 6 - 9 point losses (i.e: middling losses):

16.7 points; 11.9 rebounds; 2.6 assists; 2.9 turnovers - 6 games (Including 3 games in which Anthony did not play at all).

Anthony's per-36 numbers during overtime losses and losses of fewer than 5 points (i.e: winnable games that resulted in losses):

23.8 points; 9.3 rebounds; 2.3 assists; 3.1 turnovers - 6 games.

Anthony's per-36 numbers during wins of fewer than 5 points:

23.6 points; 7.4 rebounds; 4.5 assists; 2.7 turnovers - 7 games (Including 1 game in which Anthony played only 3 minutes).

Anthony's per-36 numbers during 6 - 9 point wins:

26.6 points; 7.4 rebounds; 4.1 assists; 1.6 turnovers - 7 games (Including 2 games in which Anthony did not play at all).

Anthony's per-36 numbers during wins of 10 points or more:

28 points; 8.4 rebounds; 3 assists; 3.6 turnovers - 8 games (Including 1 game in which Anthony did not play at all).

Judging by this data, it seems as though the fortunes of the Nuggets are not as closely tied to Anthony's production as the fortunes of the Wolves are tied to Love's production.  While it seems like the margin of victory for the Nuggets increases when Anthony's scoring improves, the same cannot be said for their margin of defeat.  The Nuggets record in games decided by 5 or fewer points is a decidedly average 7 - 6.  When you factor in their record in games where Anthony did not see much or any playing time, it seems fair to conclude that the Nuggets are a better team than the Wolves even without Anthony.

 

 

To look at whether Love or Anthony are "winners", I chose to define the games they were responsible for winning or losing by different metrics (points and rebounds for Love vs. points and assists for Anthony) based on the different roles they play for their respective teams.  After all, while it is fair to define a good game for Love based on points and rebounds because that's what the Wolves are looking for out of him every game, it is not fair to define a good game by Anthony by rebounds because the Nuggets get their rebounding from other players.  Likewise it is fair to define a good game by Anthony based on points and assists because that's what the Nuggets are looking for out of him every game (for him to effectively make their offense go), but it is not fair to define a good game by Love by assists because he isn't supposed to make the offense go for the Wolves.

Here are Love's statistics broken down into 6 categories:

Love's per-36 numbers during losses where neither his points nor rebounds matched or exceeded his per-game season averages (21 and 15, respectively) (i.e: games where I consider Love to be responsible for the loss):

15.9 points; 12 rebounds; 2.2 assists; 2.8 turnovers - 8 games.

Love's per-36 numbers during losses where only one of either his points or rebounds matched or exceeded his per-game season averages (i.e: games where I consider Love to be at least partially responsible for the loss):

17.5 points; 15.9 rebounds; 2 assists; 1.9 turnovers - 8 games.

Love's per-36 numbers during losses where both his points and rebounds matched or exceeded his per-game season averages (i.e: games where I consider Love to not be responsible for the loss):

24.1 points; 16.3 rebounds; 2.4 assists; 2.2 turnovers - 14 games.

Love's per-36 numbers during wins where neither his points nor rebounds matched or exceeded his per-game season averages (i.e: games where I consider Love to not be responsible for the win):

16.4 points; 16.4 rebounds; 0.7 assists; 2 turnovers - 2 games.

Love's per-36 numbers during wins where only one of either his points or rebounds matched or exceeded his season averages (i.e: games where I consider Love to be at least partially responsible for the win):

20.6 points; 13.3 rebounds; 2.1 assists; 2.3 turnovers - 5 games.

Love's per-36 numbers during wins where both his points and rebounds matched or exceeded his season averages (i.e: games where I consider Love to be responsible for the win):

27.2 points; 21.5 rebounds; 3.5 assists; 1.9 turnovers - 3 games.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of these statistics.  On the one hand, I could say that Love has done at least his share of the work in 30 games this season but the rest of his team let him down in 22 of those games.  On the other hand, I could say that a winner is supposed to be able to carry his team to victory regardless of how poorly his teammates play.  However, I may just have to stand by a comparison of the team's record when he plays average or better (27% win rate) vs. when he plays below average (20% win rate).  Lastly, only 27% of the Wolves losses have been in games where Love did not play well.

 

Here are Anthony's statistics in those same 6 categories:

Anthony's per-36 numbers during losses where neither his points nor assists matched or exceeded his per-game season averages (23 and 3, respectively) (i.e: games where I consider Anthony to be responsible for the loss):

18.9 points; 11.7 rebounds; 1.7 assists; 4.5 turnovers - 7 games (Including 4 games in which Anthony did not play at all).

Anthony's per-36 numbers during losses where only one of either his points or assists matched or exceeded his per-game season averages (i.e: games where I consider Anthony to be at least partially responsible for the loss):

21.6 points; 8 rebounds; 2.2 assists; 3 turnovers - 7 games.

Anthony's per-36 numbers during wins where both his points and assists matched or exceeded his per- game season averages (i.e: games where I consider Anthony to not be responsible for the loss):

28.3 points; 10 rebounds; 2.7 assists; 2.7 turnovers - 2 games.

Anthony's per-36 numbers during wins where neither his points nor assists matched or exceeded his per-game season averages (i.e: games where I consider Anthony to not be responsible for the win):

19.6 points; 14.2 rebounds; 1.1 assists; 6.5 turnovers - 5 games (Including 1 game in which Anthony only played 3 minutes and 3 games in which Anthony did not play at all).

Anthony's per-36 numbers during wins where only one of either his points or assists matched or exceeded his per-game season averages (i.e: games where I consider Anthony to be at least partially responsible for the win):

25.1 points; 8.4 rebounds; 3.6 assists; 2.4 turnovers - 7 games.

Anthony's per-36 numbers during wins where both his points and assists matched or exceeded his per-game season averages (i.e: games where I consider Anthony to be responsible for the win):

27.4 points; 6.8 rebounds; 4.2 assists; 2.5 turnovers - 10 games.

With Anthony, he's had 26 games this season where he did at least his share of the work.  Of those 26 games his team has won 17.  Of the 12 games where Anthony was either missing in action or just plain missing, his team still managed to win 5 of them. For comparison's sake, the Nuggets have a 65% win rate when Anthony does his part or more and a 41% win rate when he's not playing well or just not playing.  Lastly, 43% of the Nuggets losses were games in which Anthony either did not play or did not play well.

In hindsight, I may have chosen a poor second statistic in defining whether Anthony was responsible for a win or a loss.  In the statistics regarding margin of victory for Anthony's team, a trend can be seen indicating that the Nuggets are better of when Anthony focuses more on scoring and less on creating for others.

 

When Anthony is on his game, the Nuggets are hard to beat.  When he's not on his game, they become imminently more beatable.  Alternately, the Wolves are an imminently beatable team even when Love is on his game.  But when he's not on his game they barely stand a chance.

Small sample size aside, I feel it is safe to conclude that the Wolves are losing in spite of Kevin Love, NOT because of Kevin Love.  And when the Wolves win it is largely because of Kevin Love, NOT in spite of him.  Whereas, when the Nuggets lose it is more likely because of Anthony not playing well or not playing at all.  And when the Nuggets win it is in large part due to Carmelo Anthony's superb scoring ability.

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