Kevin Love, D.J. Augustin, and properly valuing them

Busy day, so only a short post, but this has been bothering me since it went up. Jason Kubatko, in the NYTimes.com Off the Dribble blog, writes:

So, what do you get when you combine the rebounding ability of [Dennis] Rodman with the long-range accuracy of [Steve] Kerr?

Kevin Love.

[snip]

Put it all together and you have one of the best players in the league: Love has contributed an estimated 7.8 wins to the Timberwolves, fifth most in the N.B.A.

Now, I have Off the Dribble and the Basketball-Reference blog in my RSS reader, and I greatly appreciate Kubatko's work, but this simply doesn't sound right. Why? Defense.

Perhaps Love is so good on offense that his ordinary-to-poor defense hardly matters, and maybe Darko Milicic and Corey Brewer are covering up for him and making him more ordinary than poor this season, but it's not like Love is unique. Check out Troy Murphy's 2008-09 season sometime. Dude led the league in DReb%, was fourth in Total Reb%, and shot .45% from three. 45%! And a lot of people -- rightly, I think, though it took some time for me to come around to this, too -- treat and treated Murphy like a nice player to have, but hardly a franchise cornerstone, because his defense, outside of rebounding, was horrific.

In other words, even if Love's pace-inflated offensive numbers blow you away, you still ought to consider someone like Josh Smith the superior player.

For the Bobcats equivalent, look at D.J. Augustin. Yes, his offensive development has been a pleasure to watch happen, but even better has been his defensive improvement evident over the past six or seven games (fruitlessly chasing Ben Gordon notwithstanding). His offense is right there with other NBA points, but his defense keeps him solidly with the bottom half of the league's starters.

More: Phil Birnbaum -- 2010/11 NBA rebounding correlations, Rufus on Fire -- Defense is Cheaper Than Offense

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