Does this ring a bell for anyone else? As of two years ago or thereabouts, one of the arguments that always, always came up about Kevin Love was that his offensive game underneath was too labored, so that his shot got blocked a lot. This was put forward as a fundamental flaw marring Love's potential, or I think it'd be fair to say so anyway.
In November, 2010 I put up a FanPost about this, comparing Love to the rest of the Wolves' roster. (Despite the perception, Anthony Tolliver, Corey Brewer, and Darko Milicic all were blocked more often than Kevin Love at the time. Nobody routinely bemoaned Corey Brewer's being stuffed; we lionized his dunks over defenders, mostly, when we noticed that side of his game.)
Love has since emerged as a first-tier NBA scorer. Does that mean he's fixed his tendency to get his shot swatted? What has changed over time?
Love's BLK% – the percentage of his own attempts that get blocked – over his career, from HoopData.com:
The estimable 82games also gives us break-outs of the share of each player's shots blocked on different types of attempts. Those same years of Love's career:
08-09: Jump 3%, Close 21%, Dunk 3%, Tips 0%, "Inside" (an aggregate number) 17%.
09-10: Jump 5%, Close 18%, Dunk 6%, Tips 0%, Inside 14%.
10-11: Jump 7%, Close 15%, Dunk 12%, Tips 0%, Inside 13%.
11-12: Jump 4%, Close 13%, Dunk 6%, Tips 2%, Inside 10%.
Love's basic shot distributions over time, again from 82games:
08-09: Jump 39%, Close 48%, Dunk 6%, Tips 7%
09-10: Jump 52%, Close 37%, Dunk 3%, Tips 8%
10-11: Jump 56%, Close 35%, Dunk 3%, Tips 7%
11-12: Jump 61%, Close 29%, Dunk 4%, Tips 7%
It seems pretty safe to say that Kevin Love has been given more leeway to take outside shots as he's established his NBA jump shot. However, he's also trimming the percentages of his shots that get blocked – including inside, under the basket.
Smart player. We can probably put the old argument to bed, now, for real. Its implications for judging other young players' potential – how undercut by this development?
Now that Nikola Pekovic has learned to count to three, will he enhance his (deserved) reputation for cunning under the basket by addressing this area of his own game? Blocked percentages:10-11: 12.9% overall [19% of Jump shots, 13% of "close" shots, 7% of dunks.]
11-12: 14.7% overall [26% of Jump shots, 13% of "close" shots, 4% of dunks.]
Both of Pekovic's NBA seasons have featured his being blocked more than Love ever did. I don't recall many lamentations about how blockable Pek's game is, underneath. Why not?