There was a point in time when Kevin Love was not satisfied with the amount of playing time given to him by former HC Rambis. In stark contrast this season, he has received his wish of increased playing time. In fact Love has played more mpg than any other NBA player, at 39.8 (as of 3/26). It was clear ever since the first game of the season, one in which Love played 41 minutes, that he would need to be on the court for the Timberwolves to have success. However does it hurt the Wolves to have Love play too many minutes? I have compiled some stats I found on Love's player profile @ NBA.com
Love has played in 46 of the Wolves 50 games so far this season. In that amount of time he has played over 40 minutes 30 times, while playing less than 37 on only eight occasions. In the games that Love played over 40 minutes the Wolves are an even .500, however in games where Love plays fewer than 37 minutes the Wolves are just .375 While there is a small sample size at just eight games, the Wolves have had good success when Love plays 37 or more minutes, but fewer than 40. In those scenarios the Wolves are winning games at a .625 clip. Just for reference the Wolves have won just one of four games without Love.
So looking at the data, games in which Love plays 37+ minutes, the Wolves clearly have an advantage. However it seems that there might be a point of diminishing returns when Love plays 40+ minutes a game. Now the data cannot give a full analysis of Love's impact on wins based purely on minutes per game, there are other factors in play. The loss of Rubio has had a big impact on the ability of the Wolves, and by association Love, to win games. Since March 9th (the date of Rubio's injury) the Wolves have a winning percentage of just .333 Another player that has an impact on how many minutes Love will play is Nikola Pekovic. When Pek is out, Love becomes the center since Adelman has lost all confidence in AR/Darko, and Brad Miller was never really an option to begin with. Pekovic has played 30 or more minutes in just 15 games this year. In those games the Wolves have a clear advantage, with a .600 winning percentage. Since bursting onto the scene in early February, Pekovic has missed six games. In those six games the Wolves have gone 3-3 and Love has averaged 40.6 minutes/game.
I decided to write this up because I read an article suggesting that having Kevin Love play so many minutes could do more harm than good. I wanted to see some actual data, and not just one author's gut feeling. I have concluded that the Wolves are a very average team. So average that it is hard to tell how much of a negative impact, if any, there is when Love plays large amounts of minutes (40+). Personally I feel that Kevin Love plays best, Ceteris Paribus, when he is on the court for 37 to 40 minutes based on my data. But what say you?
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