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Does Kevin Love's injury impact the MVP race?

By Matt Moore | NBA writer
Love and Rose are two players who could be out of the MVP conversation. (Getty Images)

With Kevin Love out 6-8 weeks with a fracture of two metacarpals in his shooting hand, there are a number of consequences. The race for the 6th-8th playoff spots became harder for the Wolves and opens a window for teams like the Warriors. The Wolves will have to survive until early-to-late December without the player responsible for 30 percent of their offense and rebounds.

But could it impact the MVP race as well?

More on Kevin Love's injury

Love was an MVP candidate last year, averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds with a 25.4 PER and a 16.7 Wins Above Replacment Player (courtesy of Basketball Prospectus). He was responsbile for 29 percent of the Wolves' offensive possessions and 19 percent of their total rebounds. He made huge shots, he won a ton of games for them, and had it not been for Ricky Rubio's injury, they were in line to compete for a playoff spot. That was the biggest thing keeping Love off the list the past two seasons, the Wolves' mediocrity. Even Love's defense improved last year.

If we give Love the optimistic end of being out for six weeks, and target a home game for his return ( Dec. 7 against the Cavaliers), he'd miss 17 games. That's not enough to keep him completely out of the race, but if we factor conditioning time, that's going to create a pretty big gap. When you consider that he's going up against favorites LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who have proven to be pretty durable, that's going to be a problem.

Derrick Rose is in a much worse situation. Even a return in January would have him back at under 80 percent and would probably mean more time missed with rehab. That's the 2011 MVP and one of the favorites out of the window. James is still light-years ahead, but given the likelihood of James coasting for some of the regular season to prepare for the playoffs, there's a window for Love. Or there was.

The fact that the injury is on the shooting hand causes some serious issues. The fracture isn't uncommon and isn't going to hurt him long-term, but Love does use his 3-pointer very effectively and any hit to his percentages will hurt his numbers.

The lowest number of games for an MVP winner in an 82-game season was Bill Walton's 58 in 1978. After that, it's Allen Iverson's 71-game season in 2001. So Love would have to not only overcome James and Durant, and anyone else who breaks out, but would have to buck history as well.

Injuries rob teams of their full potential, impact playoff races, and affect careers. This season some crucial injuries could impact the MVP race as well. Bummer.

 
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