After their first round exit in the playoffs last season it was obvious that the Jazz hit a ceiling. The consensus solution was that the Jazz needed another playmaker and bucket-getter on the team to take some of the offensive burden off of Donovan Mitchell.
The easy answer is to look to a perimeter player to solve that problem but the right answer may come from an alternative route.
One of the biggest stories of last season was the emergence of Nikola Jokic and him playing point-center. There have been great passing big men in the league and Jokic, in his short time in the league, made a case for being one of the best passing big men ever.
Though not on the level of Jokic, Kevin Love has been an elite level passer from the forward/center spot his entire career. From the beginning of his career, Love was considered the best outlet passers in the league.
But Love isn’t just a good outlet passer, he’s also a great passer in the half court.
If you wonder why offenses with Kevin Love are always in the top ten in the league, it’s not just that Love shoots consistently near 40% from three every season, it’s that he creates offense for everyone on the floor with his passing.
On top of his passing, Love brings the ability to create his own shot. Love brings a traditional back-to-the-basket game that is unmatched by any other big man in the league. It wasn’t that long ago that Jazz fans fell in love with Joe Johnson and his ability to get a bucket when things in the offense went awry.
Love would bring that same element to the Jazz.
Love brings the total package to an offense and would be a fantastic fit next to Rudy Gobert. His shooting would also space the floor for Donovan Mitchell who has proven to be an elite level penetrator.
So what are the cons?
There are two reasons teams have been reticent to trade for Love already. Love spent the majority of last season recovering from a foot injury. It’s been a trend in his career to miss games. He’s also proven he’s able to play all the way to the championship game when he helped Lebron James win the title for Cleveland.
If the Jazz trade for Kevin Love it’s a risk because of the injury history, but the benefits of having Love on the team, if he stays healthy, are huge.
The other con for Love is his defense. When Love is on the floor teams do everything they can to take advantage of him. They put him in pick and rolls to try to get an open look or penetration at the rim. The only thing that can make up for Love’s defensive deficiencies is an elite rim protector behind him.
Having the defensive player of the year behind Love would do a lot to make up for Love’s defense. But considering all of Love’s deficiencies on defense, there is a case that the Jazz’s defense could be just as good with Love replacing Favors and that’s because Love is arguably one of the best rebounders in the league.
In Minnesota, Love averaged double digit rebounds every season besides his rookie year with one of those seasons averaging 15 rebounds per game. Of those 15 rebounds 10 of those were defensive rebounds. When the defense gets a stop, Kevin Love ensures it by securing the rebound.
Love’s elite level of rebounding would help keep opposing offenses from getting second chance points and, as we’ve already covered, a Love rebound turns into instant offense with his outlet passing.
Kevin Love would be a risk for the Jazz but, if they can help him stay healthy, he could be the thing that takes the Jazz to the next level.