Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
While Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love has long been the king of the outlet pass, that has never translated to big assist numbers to match his elite production in scoring and rebounding.
But Love finally has the perfect personnel around him to change that.
Love, who is a perennial 25-point, 15-rebound threat, is averaging a career- high five assists per game this season. He's never recorded more than 2.5 assists per game in a season, and his career average is two per game.
The big difference has been the additions of wing players Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer.
Martin has helped raise Love's assist total in the half-court game. The sharpshooter's ability to hit shots, both contested and uncontested, and get open while cutting to the hoop has given Love a reliable option to pass the ball to regardless of where the power forward sets up on the court.
Martin is averaging 24.6 points per game, shooting 46 percent from the field and hitting an absurd 55.8 percent from 3-point range on 5.4 attempts per game.
Brewer, meanwhile, has earned the reputation as one of the best players in the NBA at anticipating a transition opportunity and using his speed to get behind the defense.
Love already has beaten the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors with full-court outlets to a streaking Brewer this season; the passes were so crisp and on target that the Minnesota Vikings may want to give Love a call to solve their quarterback woes.
The extra passing hasn't affected Love's other production at all.
He's averaging 26.4 points on 46.7 percent shooting, 15 rebounds and 2.5 threes on 6.9 attempts per game. Love also is getting to the free-throw line for 7.3 shots per game and making 84.5 percent.
It's entirely clear that his poor shooting last season -- he put up .352/.217/.704 FG/3PT/FT -- was a result of the broken hand that sidelined him for the first two weeks and then shut him down for good in January.
And his lack of assists? Well, that was a product of playing with failed acquisitions like Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster, Jonny Flynn and Darko Milicic for most of his career.
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