This is going to be the first in a series of profiles of probable NBA Draft Lottery players from the college game. For more information about the NBA Draft and for a look at the early buzz about it, check out the DC Pro Sports Report NBA Mock Draft Database. It's huge, it's comprehensive and it is the best one out there. Have a look.
The entire college basketball world is talking about Kevin Love, the 6'9" and 260-lb. freshman center for the UCLA Bruins. It is easy to see why. Love, the son of a basketball legend, is a sky-high basketball I.Q. and an old school game containing the occasional dramatic flourish. [You'll see a bit more of that later.]
Love is a remarkably consistent player, scoring in double figures in all 28 games he's played in this, his freshman season. Averaging 17 points and 11 boards in almost 29 minutes per game, Love is also impressively productive. Love's inside game is powerful and his pet shot is a baby hook that is very difficult for college players to defend. He's got terrific footwork in the paint and can be dominating rebounder on the offensive and defensive glass.
Love's inside game allows him to shoot over 58% from the field, but he's a more versatile player than that. He can also step outside and has range out beyond 20 feet. Love is hitting almost 36% of his 3-pointers this year and over 74% of his free throws. He's just got a good shooting touch and very soft hands. Love is also an excellent passer and can pass out of double teams or run a high post. He's also able to stay on the court by not giving up too many stupid fouls.
So, what's the downside? Well, he doesn't have great court speed, doesn't often beat his man down the court. While his size is sufficient to dominate the paint in college, he won't be big enough to play center and dominate down low in the NBA. He's had knee problems in the past and isn't the best-conditioned athlete in college hoops, though his freshman status may have something to do with that.
When I look at Love, I see another Elton Brand type, though at a more advanced stage. Love will have to move to power forward in the NBA, but he's got so many skills that he has a chance to be a formidable player in the pros. His game is remarkably well-rounded for a college freshman.
And now, watch and listen as Kevin Love narrates his way through a backboard-shattering dunk of his back in high school.