Apr 14, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers: The Pressure On Kevin Love

Fans of teams throughout the league recognize that losing can serve a purpose, with the reward being found on the night of the NBA Draft Lottery.  It’s the big hope that gives hope to fan bases and front offices, throughout the league.

In one night, the direction of an entire franchise can change, and the first overall draft pick gives the ultimate hope that things could change in the near future.  The Cleveland Cavaliers are simply using the luck of the lottery in a different way.

With two first overall draft picks in Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, and a 2015 Miami Heat first-rounder (top 10 protected), the Cavaliers have agreed to terms on a trade for Kevin Love to be completed on Aug. 23.

When LeBron James announced his return to Cleveland through a beautifully written letter on Sports Illustrated, he spoke about his desire to mentor the young talent in Cleveland, and the need for patience as it would take time for the Cavaliers to learn to win and compete for a championship.

This trade for Kevin Love move the window for championship contention from “in the near future” to expecting immediate success.  Having a core of Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Love means that anything short of the 2015 NBA Finals will be viewed as a disappointment.

Expectations could not be much higher, which could be trouble considering that both Irving and Love have never played a minute in the playoffs.

Trades for superstar talent almost always include one team mortgaging their future for the chance to compete immediately: young talent for an established star.  Although the Cavaliers are giving up a potential star SG/SF in Wiggins who is still just 19 years old, they still find themselves with a core of players that are well positioned to compete for years to come.

LeBron James is still just 29 years old and should have plenty of prime years ahead of him.  Kyrie Irving just turned 22 this past March, and Kevin Love has already proved himself to be a unique player through NBA history at the tender age of 26.

Add in other young players like Dion Waiters (22) and Tristan Thompson (23) and there is no reason (outside of potential injuries) that the Cavaliers can’t be a contending team both now and in the future.

Kevin Love certainly has his detractors; those who claim that he merely put up big numbers on poor teams for his entire career.  After all, wouldn’t a true star player be able to carry his team to the playoffs?

Love was fourth in league scoring, third in rebounding, and made the eighth-most 3-pointers (behind Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Gerald Green, Wesley Matthews, Kevin Durant, and Jose Calderon).  These numbers are almost too good to be true.

Love’s stats put him near the top of the league almost across the board.

Love was simply asked to do too much in Minnesota, by being the team’s leading rebounder, scorer, and finished behind only Ricky Rubio in assists.  In fact, no power forward had more assists than Love’s 4.4 per game.

Even more than LeBron, it will be Love who will have the pressure to prove himself this coming year.  For the first time in his career, Love will be playing with a legitimate star (two if you believe Kyrie has already reached this status) and will not be forced to carry as big a load.

If things fail, fans will quickly turn on him, especially if Wiggins continues to show signs of superstar development.

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Tags: Andrew Wiggins Cleveland Cavaliers Kevin Love Kyrie Irving Lebron James

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