The Kevin Love tornado swept through Verizon Center on Saturday night and left 20 points and 21 rebounds in its wake. Granted, his Timberwolves team lost to the Wizards, 103-96, but his Timberwolves team usually loses. This hasn’t kept him from piling up the stats, though – the kind we haven’t seen in almost 30 years.
For starters, it was Love’s 11th 20-20 game of the season. Only two other players in the league have more than one (Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Memphis’ Zach Randolph, both of whom have five). Per game, Love is averaging 20.9 points and 15.7 rebounds; if he can keep it up the rest of the way, he’d become the first 20-15 player since Moses Malone with the ’82-83 Sixers.
The 20-10 season is fairly common, but the 20-15 season puts you in a different stratosphere. After all, just 13 players in NBA history have accomplished the feat: Wilt Chamberlain (12 times), Bob Pettit (8), Elgin Baylor (4), Walt Bellamy (4), Nate Thurmond (4), Elvin Hayes (4), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4), Jerry Lucas (3), Malone (2), Neil Johnston (1), Dave Cowens (1), Bob McAdoo (1) and Truck Robinson (1). Robinson is the only one who isn’t in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
One more thing: If Love, who’s still just 22, pulls it off, he’ll be the second-youngest ever to do it. (McAdoo was 18 days younger in ’73-74.) Of course, Chamberlain probably could have done it when he was a college freshman, but they wouldn’t let you turn pro early back then.
Love has become a statistical curiosity – kind of like Ichiro Suzuki, the 200-hit machine, in baseball. But he’ll probably never get his proper due until the T-Wolves start winning, and who knows when that will be? At this point, they’re a lot closer to the first pick in the draft than they are to the playoffs.