Is Kevin Love the best power forward in the NBA today?

Coming into this NBA regular season, all anyone was paying attention to was the recent big-name free agents signed around the league like LeBron James (Miami Heat), Amare Stoudemire (New York Knicks) and Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls), but the real story this year has been the emergence of some of the most talented young players in the league like Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) and Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves).

Over the past few years, the Clippers, Bulls and Timberwolves have been perennial bottom feeders in the NBA with little or no hope for the future. Fortunately, all three of these struggling NBA franchises were able to get their hands on some promising young players that had the potential to turn the teams around.

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 20:  Blake Griffin ...
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Even though the Chicago Bulls are the only team of the three that will make the playoffs at season’s end, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Minnesota Timberwolves might not be that far off from being playoff bound in the next few years. There is no doubt that Blake Griffin is the frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award this season and has stolen some of the spotlight away from the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers in Los Angeles, but it has been the Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love that has really started to make headlines as of late.

With forwards like Tim Duncan, Moses Malone and Charles Barkley before him, Kevin Love has had his work cut out for him in terms of being compared with the best of the best at the power forward position in the NBA. Last season Love was a solid contributor for the T’Wolves and thought to be the next big thing in Minnesota, but no one knew just how good this kid from UCLA would turn out to be.

This season Kevin Love has put up some monster numbers and made history with unbelievable performances. With 20.9 points, 15.8 rebounds (league leader) and shooting 47% from the floor, Love has been arguably the best power forward in the NBA this season and recently cemented himself in the record books by passing NBA great Moses Malone for most double-doubles in a row in a single season.

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With his 51st straight double-double (23 points, 17 rebounds) against the Dallas Mavericks on Mon. March 7, 2011, Kevi

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n Love passed Moses Malone and has made a case as one of the best players in this league. The Minnesota Timberwolves may still be a few years away from being playoff bound in the Western Conference, that is if Kevin Love sticks around or takes the high road like Kevin Garnett did, but Love has definitely made an impression and is quickly becoming a rising star in the NBA.

In my opinion, there is no other forward in the league that comes close to Kevin Love right now in terms of putting up the numbers every single night, but whether or not he is willing to stick around if this franchise can’t surround him with talented players remains to be seen.

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What’s the key to the Thunder’s sudden resurgence?

Ryan Ward - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

The Thunder will make their first playoff appearance in its young existence. Oklahoma City is currently the sixth seed in the west but are locked in a three-way battle with the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. Well, it doesn’t really matter what seed they will end up in because the Thunder are young, athletic and skilled, which makes them a very dangerous first-round opponent.

Obviously, their success can be attributed by the sudden explosion of Kevin Durant. Durant went from rising star last season to an MVP candidate. He will likely win his first scoring title this season. Forward Jeff Green is averaging 15 points a ball game and Russell Westbrook is having a career year. These three young guns are a big reason why the Thunder find themselves in the playoffs.

It’s their offense that gets a lot of recognition, but its actually the Thunder’s defense which makes them dangerous. The Thunder allows only 97.6 points a game, which is good enough for 11th in the league. There’s not one individual on Oklahoma City that is a great defender. But as a team the Thunder are a cohesive, effective defensive unit.

Against the highest scoring team in the league, the Phoenix Suns, the Thunder held them to their lowest scoring output in the second half – the Suns scored only 34 points. The young Oklahoma City Thunder also held the Suns under 100 points. Two-time MVP Steve Nash and All-star Amar’e Stoudemire were forced into committing five combined turnovers.

All you need to know about what the Thunder defense did to the Suns offense is this: the Suns shot 58 percent in first and second quarters. After that, Phoenix shot only 31 percent. Durant and Green had seven steals – amazing considering they are both forwards.

This years Thunder reminds us much of last seasons Portland Trail Blazers. Exciting crowd, budding superstar in Durant (in the Blazers case Brandon Roy), and a core group of young talented guys. All of this resulted in first-round fodder.

Durant, in particular, had no turnovers on his way to scoring 35 points. It’s been a joy to watch Durant this season. There are already talks that is he the second best player in the league – yes, in front of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard. This statement might be a reach considering Durant has played at this level for only one season. Plus, greatness can’t be measured during the season, it is seen where it counts – in the playoffs.

Durant and the Thunder will get the opportunity to prove exactly that as they make their first playoff appearance in history.