Kevin Love is sometimes overlooked in the discussion of superstars in the NBA because he’s put up huge numbers for Minnesota Timberwolves teams that have never made the playoffs.
It was reported Thursday that Love will be traded later this month to the Cleveland Cavaliers for No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and the Cavs’ first-round pick in 2015.
It will go down as one of the biggest offseason trades in NBA history.
For starters, Love is in a pretty exclusive club after averaging 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game last season.
It’s a club only 15 other players belong to—players who have averaged at least 26 points and 12 rebounds per game in a season. Besides Love, only two other players on that list are not in the Basketball Hall of Fame—Shaquille O’Neal, who isn’t eligible yet, and Spencer Haywood.
The other names on that list are pretty much considered basketball royalty or, if not that, just a level below it.
The list includes:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (eight times)
- Elgin Baylor (seven times)
- Walt Bellamy (three times)
- Wilt Chamberlain (eight times)
- Billy Cunningham
- Elvin Hayes (three times)
- Haywood (twice)
- Love (twice)
- Karl Malone
- Moses Malone (twice)
- Bob McAdoo (four times)
- George Mikan
- O’Neal (four times)
- Hakeem Olajuwon
- Bob Pettit (six times)
- Oscar Robertson
Love is just the second player on that list to be traded the offseason after averaging at least 26 and 12.
The other was just another ordinary trade that didn’t have an impact on either franchise going forward—the June 1975 deal that sent Abdul-Jabbar and center Walt Wesley to the Los Angeles Lakers for guards Junior Bridgeman and Brian Winters, forward Dave Meyers and center Elmore Smith.
Abdul-Jabbar was a game-changer for the Lakers, earning MVP honors in 1975-76 despite the Lakers finishing with a sub-.500 record and missing the playoffs.
He would win MVP honors again in 1976-77, the year the Lakers returned to the playoffs after a two-season hiatus, and in 1979-80, the year Magic Johnson arrived in L.A. and the Lakers won their second title since moving to Hollywoodland.
The Lakers would win five titles during Abdul-Jabbar’s time in Los Angeles and he retired as the NBA’s all-time leader in points, a record he still holds with 38,387.
Love had a more difficult path to that list of 16 players, as well. Rebounds are harder to get these days, what with the pace of play that of a veritable tortoise to the hares of the 1970s and 1980s. Love averaged 12.5 rebounds per game last season on a career-low rebounding percentage of 18.7.
Abdul-Jabbar only had a higher rebounding percentage than 18.7 twice in his career (19.6 percent in 1975-76 and 18.9 percent in 1970-71).
One other player on the list did change teams the offseason after averaging at least 26 and 12, but Moses Malone left the Houston Rockets after the 1981-82 season as a free agent and signed with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he had an OK year (another MVP trophy and an NBA title).
Knock Love’s defense if you must. Point out his teams in Minnesota never made the playoffs if you must.
But if the only other player who had comparable stats the season before being traded is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?
Yeah, you’re in pretty good company.