Over the past few days this question has floated around the Internet. Would you trade Draymond Green for Kevin Love? Six months ago the mere idea sounded comical. Kevin Love, 3-time all-star, MVP candidate for Draymond Green, a tough tenacious role player.
But such is the NBA, things move fast, situations can change quickly. The Warriors are currently the belle of the NBA ball, and Green might as well be Cinderella showing up in glass slippers the way everyone adores him. Meanwhile, Cleveland is currently a train-wreck, and Kevin Love looks like a stumbling girl in Vegas that even the most inebriated blazer clad lothario wouldn’t think to talk to.
Objectively, I’ll try to take a step back and take my homer-goggles off. Kevin Love is a fantastic player. A year ago, some said Kevin Love should be the MVP (similar to Anthony Davis this season). He’s a uniquely talented power forward capable of shooting 3s, posting up and scoring inside. He has the vision to find the open man out of a double team. All while still rebounding at an elite clip. Those guys don’t grow on trees. There’s a reason his plus-minus was Steph Curry-like last season.
Cleveland is basically doing everything to minimize him. Love’s never been a good defender. Not even an average one. But Cleveland’s lack of any sort of team-defensive scheme has made him look worse than I thought humanly possible. What’s more troubling is Cleveland hasn’t figured out how to utilize him offensively, relegating him to stand on the perimeter and just space the floor. If we are to objectively look at this, we can’t judge Love’s talents on the current Cleveland mess but on what we know about him over the years. That’s why Coach Thorpe of ESPN said there’s no comparison and he would choose Love every time.
Draymond Green, the Warriors heartbeat, isn’t near the offensive force. You can’t build an offense around Green. He is more your prototypical glue guy, who does a little bit of everything on offense to supplement your team and help win. And then there’s defense. While Love is below average, Green is elite. He is capable of guarding 4 positions and on some nights, all 5. Green’s defense has become so noticed, it’s no longer hyperbole to talk about him as the defensive player of the year. Tom Haberstroh of ESPN showed via StatVU numbers exactly how elite Green’s defense is.
On some level this discussion devolves down to a star on offense versus a star on defense. That however does not answer the question of which you would rather have. Running down 30 teams in the NBA it’s hard not to notice a trend. Those who are in need of scoring or a go-to player to build around would most assuredly prefer Kevin Love. Teams like Indiana or Denver who are inconsistent and could use that marquee player to play off of would surely benefit more from Kevin Love.
On the other hand, teams with talented lead offensive players like Golden State or Dallas would most likely benefit from what Draymond Green brings. They aren’t struggling to manufacture points. They need the right guys around them to bring together a well-rounded team. Hell, Love’s own team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, could benefit greater from Draymond Geen than Kevin Love. They have all-star caliber players to build an offense around. They don’t need a 3rd one as much as they need a player who provides other skills to the team. They need selfless players who set screens, make the extra pass and play high level defense, all things Draymond Green excels at.
Reality is, this is a contextual question. And while the purist might argue it’s a no-brainer, Kevin Love all day, it’s not that simple. Teams don’t win by simply putting the 5 highest rated players in NBA 2k15 on the floor together. You need players who can do different things. Players who can defend, screen and play with-in themselves to supplement your superstar playmaker. Love could very well be the superior overall player, he is the superior offensive player, but not all roles in all teams require the same skills.
For that reason, personally I wouldn’t trade Green for Love. Call me a homer but when a team is 30-5, with the #1 ranked defense, you don’t trade the teams defensive MVP. Maybe he’s the perfect fit in the perfect situation, but Green’s too important to Golden State to consider swapping him for Kevin Love.