The 2018-19 season will be a season of high expectations. Players such as LeBron James and Paul George come into this season with the weight of the world on their shoulders but most people expect them to produce.
They are superstars, after all; some of the best players on the planet. However, there are some players with few expectations to play well in 2019. Whether they be disgruntled stars or young players who haven’t yet lived up to expectations, the general NBA fanbase seems to have low expectations of these players.
Today, I will go over five NBA players with something to prove this year.
5. Kevin Love, F/C, Cleveland Cavaliers
When LeBron James announced his departure from his beloved city of Cleveland, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the Cavaliers would once again be in the gutter. In 2014, the Cavs only won 33 games with a burgeoning superstar point guard in Kyrie Irving. Similarly to that team, the current Cavaliers roster has one star in Love and a slew of average to below average complimentary pieces. The one caveat here is eighth overall pick Collin Sexton, who has the potential to be a star but that’s a topic for another day.
Most people expected the Cavaliers to trade Kevin Love soon after James left and begin a full rebuild. That seems like the sensible thing to do, right? The best player on the planet just left your team, so trading your veteran star for draft capital and/or young assets to build around Collin Sexton seems like the right idea. However, Koby Altman clearly has different thoughts.
Only 29, Love should still be in the middle of his prime right now. Many are quick to forget the dominance that Kevin Love showed during his tenure in Minnesota. During the 2014 season, what would be Love’s last in Minneapolis, he posted a monster stat line of 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.4 assists, with a 59.1 true shooting percentage and shooting 37.6% from deep. Despite his efforts, the Wolves predictably missed the playoffs with a 40-42 record.
In his last four seasons with Cleveland, Love put up splits of 17.1 points, 10 boards, and 2.1 assists, with a 57.3 true shooting percentage and shooting 37.7% from three. Those stats are far lower than his 2014 campaign but his game was completely changed due to playing with LeBron James and due to the changing nature of the NBA.
In Minnesota, Love was the primary option. The Cavs used him as a scoring threat in the low post, the mid-post, and off of action for threes. In Cleveland, Love changed into a more complimentary player, with more of a focus on spacing the floor and crashing the glass. He did garner the occasional post up with James but his offensive game wasn’t the same.
Can Love flip a switch and turn back into the dominant force that he once was? He will still have the opportunity to play off the ball with Collin Sexton as the primary ball handler but will certainly get the opportunity to prove he still has what it takes to be a primary option.
Next Up: Player 4