The Kevin Love-Blake Griffin Debate


Kevin Love and Blake Griffin have taken vastly different routes to the NBA. But their performances in the 2010-11 NBA season have sparked a new debate; who is the best young power forward in the NBA?

Through Friday night the Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love is averaging 21.5 points and 15.7 rebounds per game. The Clippers’ Blake Griffin checks in at 22 points and 12.7 boards.

Just by looking at points and rebounds per game it appears they’re having extremely similar seasons, with Love having the slight upper hand due to his work on the glass.

Looking deeper into their numbers- and styles of play- it becomes apparent that comparing their respective seasons is like comparing True Grit to Black Swan; they both play drastically different, but you can’t go wrong with either one.

Although the comparisons between Kevin Love and Natalie Portman’s character in Black Swan are similar in that each of them at times has had to do it all themselves, I’ll keep the movie analogies to a minimum.

Love turned heads after his 31-point 31-rebound game on November 12th against the New York Knicks while Griffin began the season averaging only 16.5 points in his first 13 games.

It was a November 20th game against, oddly enough, the New York Knicks that Griffin showed the potential many knew he had. His 44-point 15-rebound performance showcased all of his electric skills sets.

Griffin has been a constant staple on ESPN’s daily top ten highlights with his violent, electrifying dunks.

Griffin ranks first in the NBA in dunks with 88. 12 ahead of second place Dwight Howard.

Fans have begun to pour into the Staples Center for Clippers games like never before. Although they’ve won 8 of 12, much of the rise in attendance is due to the possibilities that Griffin might show the fans something special.

Love is the antithesis power forward to Blake Griffin.

He currently ranks 109th in the NBA in dunks with a whopping 11. Dunking clearly isn’t part of Love’s game.

But Love currently ranks 8th in the league in 3-point percentage at 45% (59-130). Griffin has attempted only seven threes on the year, making four of them.

A value can’t be put on the momentum that is gained from a highlight reel dunk, or the energy that it gives teammates. With that being said, Love’s ability to stretch the floor with his outside shooting does more for his teammates than Griffin’s dunking ability.

From a strategy standpoint, dunking is essentially the same as a lay-up. Whereas coaches don’t shape a game plan around a guy who can dunk as much as they would to a guy who can stretch the floor and hit from deep.

Don’t get me wrong I love a highlight dunk just as much as any other NBA rube. But Love’s three-point skill is more valuable to his team than Griffin’s dunking.

If a game plan is put in place to get out to a certain shooter, in this case Love, it naturally spreads the floor and gives teammates more room to work.

In game planning towards a guy who is an electric dunker, all the opposing coach can say is, “don’t get in a poster.”

Their minutes per game are off by just seconds. Griffin averages 37.3 minutes per game, whereas Love averages 36.9. So their per 48-minute totals are relevant to their stats.

Their numbers are a wash in steals, assists to turnover ratio, and blocks.

But Love capitalizes on every opportunity he gets.

He is shooting 87.6% from the free-throw stripe. Griffin on the other hand is struggling from the charity stripe shooting just 60.2%.

Where we stand.

Love is a better shooter who creates more space for his teammates, and capitalizes on his opportunities at the free-throw line. His rebounding skill exceeds everyone else in the league, and it isn’t even close.

No matter how much he helps his teammates, the Timberwolves are still just 10-30.

Griffin is an electric player who puts fans in the seats. His ability to energize his teammates doesn’t carry a value, and it has sparked this Clipper team to a 8-4 stretch over their past 12 games.

Even with that stretch they are still struggling with a current record of 13-25.

Odds are both the Clippers and the Timberwolves will not make the playoffs this season. That debate ends almost as quickly as it begins.

But the Griffin and Love debate is set to go on for many years to come. They are each elite players in their own way, and the sky is the limit for where their careers will go.

-Brett Cloutier

You can follow Brett on Twitter, or listen to his weekly Podcast.


  1. Robert Tokimoto says

    If either one of these guys was traded to the other guy’s team and they lined up together in the frontcourt, that team would suddenly become the most dominant team in the NBA.

  2. well done! Lots of in-depth research and numbers here. They just tipped off a little bit ago, so I guess tonight we’ll find out more about the comparisons between these two

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