Wolves Select Zach LaVine at Number 13


With the 2014 NBA Draft out of the way, the Timberwolves now have a more clear, although uncertain, picture of what the team will look like in the upcoming season. With the 13th pick, Wolves GM and Head Coach Flip Saunders went with the athletic yet inconsistent freshman PG from UCLA, Zach LaVine, passing on bigger names, such as UConn’s Shabazz Napier and Duke’s Rodney Hood.

Like most Timberwolves fans, it was a bit of a head scratching moment when LaVine’s name was called at that 13th spot. Even LaVine himself seemed a bit confused after he appeared to have mouthed quite the expletive after his name was announced.

I thought to myself “Great! Just what the Timberwolves needed! Another point guard!” But upon further inspection, the pick started to grow on me. Especially when you look at the guard situation currently in place. Ricky Rubio, assist specialist and dynamic passer, is locked in for at least another year, with the team having the option to terminate his contract at the end of the 2015 season.

So full of promise, Rubio took a step back in terms of his offensive production last season, averaging only 9.5 PPG. Then there is J.J. Barea, whose production you either loved or hated on a game to game basis. He also saw lower averages last season in points and assists. He is under contract through the 2014-15 season and is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent thereafter.

Alexey Shved, still under his rookie contract set to expire after the ’16 season, was pretty much a non-factor only averaging 10 minutes per game and 4 PPG.

LaVine is criticized for his inconsistent play as a Bruin, averaging 9.4 PPG and 1.8 assists per game in his one season as a freshman. It is also concerning that UCLA Coach Alford kept LaVine on the bench at the end of games. What LaVine lacked in consistency, however, he makes up for in sheer athletic ability, something that Wolves guards have lacked for some time. If properly developed, LaVine could be a huge payoff for the franchise.

One thing that cannot be overlooked is what Flip plans to do with an unhappy Kevin Love. With offers coming from virtually every team in the NBA, Flip is holding his Kevin Love card close for now.

Talks with the Warriors for Klay Thompson and David Lee seem to be the most interesting, but have stalled in recent weeks due to disagreements of what Love is truly worth. Perhaps Flip believes that the current roster is only a few pieces away from breaking the 10 year drought of no playoff basketball here in Minnesota, and I would tend to agree.

Perhaps LaVine could turn into the scorer that they NEED Rubio to be if he plans to remain in the starting lineup. Only time will tell.