clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Time to Make Life Easier for Zach LaVine

New, comments

One musing today: Pick a position and teach Zach LaVine how to play it.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Zach LaVine has separated himself as one of the more outspoken and outgoing individuals on the Minnesota Timberwolves. This is an opinion; there is, obviously, no way to quantify how outspoken or outgoing one person is compared to another.

When he was drafted, Kevin Love, Alexey Shved and Luc Mbah a Moute hadn't been traded and the roster was vastly different than what it is today. LaVine was the newest, latest addition to the Timberwolves and athleticism plus the ability to jump out the gym make him an enticing product - one fans could become marginally excited about. His reputation slowly continued growing after a few impressive dunks during Las Vegas Summer League.

In August, LaVine sat next to Thaddeus Young, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett at the State Fair, where a population of the media and fans observed the Wolves latests acquisitions for the first time. Obviously, prior to being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers, a certain amount of hype already surrounded Wiggins and that's who most of those at the fair were there to see. Despite this, the Timberwolves have touted LaVine around Minnesota for notably more public appearances than they have Wiggins.

It appears the Public Relations department is- whether it be by design or on accident -deflecting the proverbial spotlight away from Wiggins and instead onto LaVine. This is an entirely speculative opinion. The Wolves have really made an effort to promote LaVine this summer and the rejuvenated fanbase seem to have taken a liking to him.

One the other side, there are some who are beyond being infatuated by dunks and leaping ability therefore aren't as enamored at the prospect of what LaVine may potentially become. Knowledgeable NBA followers adept at applying advanced analytics and/or reviewing enough film to formulate critiques without being influenced by national or local media understand LaVine is one of the most inexperienced basketball players in the league today.

The Wolves aren't shining constant attention on Wiggins and, instead, seem to be downplaying likelihood a prospect with outstanding intangibles becomes an impactful NBA player. Moreover, the spotlight is being shined on a different, separate prospect. Such attention and subsequent pressure (hype) has been placed on LaVine when nobody really knows what position he'll play during the regular season.

Meanwhile, it won't be long until Wiggins cracks the starting lineup.

It would be wise for Flip Saunders and his assistants to define Zach LaVine as a basketball player.

Some may have been warming up to the idea of keeping J.J. Barea around as insurance, incase Ricky Rubio or Mo Williams suffer an injury. Now that Barea is expected to be released the point guard portion of the depth chart is solidified.

Thus, if Rubio or Williams are to go down due to injury, LaVine will then become the Wolves backup point guard.

David Adelman told me and handful of others after a game during LVSL, the Wolves expect LaVine to play point guard and shooting guard this season, although many would say he isn't ready for a significant workload during his rookie season regardless of role or position. To this point we have yet to see LaVine flourish playing either position and, concerningly, he hasn't appeared all too comfortable during the few times I've seen him on the floor during the preseason.

With the regular season less than 40 hours away, there will soon be less time for the Wolves to execute any media blitzes such as what we've seen this summer. Like what we saw the State Fair, Dunks After Dark and in tours around the Twin Cities. For LaVine, it's time to discover an identity and that won't happen unless he receives help from Flip Saunders and the rest of the coaching staff.

The Timberwolves have stirred up reasons for fans to be excited, which is great, but now it's time to focus on basketball and what's best for the players. It would be wise to determine what position LaVine will play this season. Once it is decided he can learn his role within the system before moving onto the next stage of development - whatever that may be.

Metal Monday

Alternative