Zach LaVine has a great deal of talent and potential. However, he is raw. But with Ricky Rubio sidelined for the immediate future with an ankle injury, the Timberwolves need him to grow up quickly.
The 19 year old was drafted this past June by Minnesota after spending one season with UCLA and it was expected he would spend at least the early part of the season adjusting to the NBA from the bench. In the first four games of the season, LaVine didn’t get off the bench for two of them and combined for 13 minutes in the other two games.
Minnesota does have veteran Mo Williams around, but there is no potential or future with Williams. He is a solid veteran point guard, but he is clearly not part of the greater plan. So it does make sense for Flip Saunders to give LaVine a chance to see what he can do. After all, the Timberwolves aren’t expected to contribute this season anyway, with the development of young players being the ultimate goal.
From a fantasy perspective, the first indicator of value is minutes. And in the past two games, LaVine played 26 and then 34 minutes respectively. If you are going to look strictly at the box scores, the first inclination would be to leave the rookie on the waiver wire.
In his first game of extended action, LaVine went 2-5 from the field scoring five points while adding four assists and six rebounds. Wednesday night against the Rockets, he was 2-9 from the field scoring eight points with three rebounds. But, beyond his minutes, what really struck me were LaVine’s nine assists.
That and Saunders speaking highly of the rookie after the game made me optimistic for his outlook moving forward.
“I believe we’re seeing Zach grow up right before our eyes,” Saunders said.
Now, we don’t want to overreact here, but anytime a coach says that, it is a good thing. LaVine is not having success offensively, but he is at least showing he can be a play maker. The talent and potential is there, but I’m not sure LaVine will much consistent value this season outside of the deepest leagues. But he does need to be on your radar, and could be a good source of assists at a minimum.
However, he does find his offensive game, look out.