The numbers Timberwolves forward Kevin Love has been putting up this season justify his growing consideration for NBA Most Valuable Player honors.

This is just a sampling of Love's performance: a league-leading 44 double-doubles and 39.8 minutes per game, 149 points and 65 rebounds in his past four games and averages of 31.3 points and 14.0 rebounds in March.

Is there a more productive and consistent player in the NBA? As much as Love has raised his profile around the league, an equally debatable question is beginning to surface: Is Love closing in on Kevin Garnett as the Wolves' best all-time player?

"Right now, Love is the best power forward playing, but when you talk about impact on an organization, a lot goes into that," former Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. "The next step for Love is taking the team to the playoffs. 'KG' took his team to the playoffs nine straight years, and in some of those years, he won 50 games."

And a league MVP award in 2004. Saunders and other NBA experts set the barometer pretty high for Love to become the Wolves' best all-time player, but no one claimed the distinction is out of reach for the four-year veteran.

Getting the Wolves (25-27) into the playoffs as well as becoming a better defender are the primary factors cited by league observers for Love to ultimately challenge Garnett's status in the Wolves' 23-year history.

Love, 23, has the Wolves in contention for their first playoff appearance in eight years. Entering

Friday night's game against Boston and Garnett at Target Center, the Wolves are 2-1/2 games behind Denver (27-24) and Houston (27-24) for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.