MINNEAPOLIS — In a survey posted on NBA.com, the league’s general managers were quite complimentary of Timberwolves forward Kevin Love.
Or were they?
The GMs view Love as the NBA’s best offensive rebounder, its second-best power forward behind San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, and the No. 1 player who makes the most out of “limited natural ability.” That last one can go either way; on the one hand, it’s evident big-time observers view Love as a tireless worker more than anything else — certainly not a knock.
Then again, a ranking in this category suggests the athlete in question is indeed limited athletically.
Love isn’t jumping through the roof of the Target Center or outracing point guards in transition. But big men that carry their weight and shoot as well as him possess a different kind of athleticism. It’s not flashy or even necessarily fun to watch, but the fact a 6-foot-10, 260-pound human being can make 35.2 percent of his 3-point attempts and pass, cut and free himself up for shots on a regular certainly speaks to some sort of giftedness.
But it’s also the product of Love spending many hours in the gym developing himself into one of the game’s “most unique players,” as Minnesota president of basketball operations Flip Saunders calls him. His rookie season, for example, Love shot just 19 3s and made two of them. He wasn’t nearly as dangerous a triple threat as he is heading into his sixth professional campaign.
Love is throwback. He’d rather bang his way through a defender than finesse his way around him. His points come not from winning one-on-four battles but by operating in coach Rick Adelman’s system and being able to hit shots from anywhere on the floor.
Every person’s ability in his or her profession is limited in some way. Even LeBron James is confined by gravity and the reality of aging. That’s why we marvel at sport — people, like us, do things that push the limits of their bodies, sometimes accomplishing feats these casings of ours simply weren’t made to do.
Love does, that, too. It just might not look as pretty.
Other Timberwolves tidbits from the annual GMs poll, which asked all 30 general managers 56 questions and weren’t permitted to vote for their own team or personnel:
— Ricky Rubio is the second-most likely international player to have a breakout season this year, according to the results (17.9 percent). Toronto big man Jonas Valanciunas ranked first with 39.3 percent of the votes. Rubio also tied with Boston point guard Rajon Rondo (16.7 percent) as the NBA’s second-best passer behind Chris Paul (46.7 percent).
— Minnesota tied with Cleveland, Brooklyn, Houston, New Orleans and Washington as the second-most popular pick for the league’s most improved team. Detroit got 16.7 of the votes and came in first.
— GMs ranked Adelman’s corner, motion-based offense as the second-best in the league behind Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and his system.
Tastes of the Target Center: Media, Timberwolves staff and select season ticketholders were invited to sample some of the Target Center’s new concession cuisine Wednesday.
Not a bad lunch break, huh?
After sampling nearly every item on the menu and sustaining a resulting food coma, this reporter recommends Big Red’s brisket (available on the lower concourse behind section 104) and the Italian Panini (section 136) but advises readers to stay away from the steak sandwich (129) — a little rough on the chompers.
Upcoming: After a back-to-back in Philadelphia and Detroit to close the preseason slate, the Timberwolves will have Friday off and return to practice sometime over the weekend.
Expect some cuts to be announced after Thursday’s game against the Pistons. Teams have until 4 p.m. CT Monday to trim rosters to 15 players.
The season opener against Orlando next Wednesday is now a week away. The Magic are 2-5 with one exhibition contest remaining. Their matchup in Minneapolis will be their second of the regular season after opening at Indiana next Tuesday.