Well those are good points and I think you're pretty close. The more I think about it, the more subtle it actually seems. In fact, throughout most of the series Hinata didn't actually "love" Naruto as such. Up until she said the fateful words in chapter 437, Hinata had never openly expressed her feelings for Naruto so boldly. Throughout her appearances, even in her own internal monologue, she referred to him as "the one [she] admires". She kind of "liked" him, but her feelings weren't overtly romantic like the crushes the other girls had on Sasuke. She was content to watch him and draw inspiration from him, rather than actually trying to get close to him or hoping to go out with him. Over time, these feelings would have developed into love- not coincidentally, at the same time that Naruto retained the same traits of courage and perseverence that had drawn her to him originally, but also actually became stronger, cooler and more reliable (taller and better looking too).
Originally Posted by TheJaggid
I agree that a lot of my theorising is probably giving Masashi Kishimoto more credit than he's due, but it's still interesting to consider the way things turn out anyway.