With the NBA Draft Lottery behind us, we shift our focus directly to the June 26th NBA Draft. Over the next month we’ll look at some of the top prospects in the draft, along with players that the Magic either reportedly worked out, or interviewed at the NBA Draft Combine. UCLA’s Zach LaVine is up next.
The second of three UCLA players to declare is one of the more intriguing players in this draft class. Zach LaVine, who was ranked 50th in the ESPN Top-100 in 2013, burst onto the scene thanks to strong play early in the season. Thanks to his play, LaVine was able to ride the hype and decided that only one season as a Bruin was best for him.
|Points||Assist %||Turnover %||TS%||Usage %|
While LaVine didn’t put up huge numbers, he did show flashes of brilliance. While he’s not a true point guard, he showed an ability to find his teammates, while also taking care of the ball. His 11.6 turnover percentage ranked him 11th out of 22 shooting guards in DraftExpress’ top-100 prospects as well.
|Height w/shoes||Weight||Wingspan||Standing Reach||Max Vert|
|6’ 5.75”||181||6’ 8.25”||8’ 4”||41.5|
One of the highest flyers in college basketball, LaVine’s athleticism undoubtedly has some salivating. Combine his explosiveness with his great speed and you have an extremely dangerous player, especially in the open court. His first step, coupled with his quickness and explosiveness off one foot make him nearly unguardable in the open court. Don’t believe me? Well, watch this.
Coming off screens, off the dribble, spotting up. You name it, LaVine can knock it down. While he’s got slightly odd mechanics with his jump shot, it’s silky smooth leaving his hands and he possesses a quick release. In his one season at UCLA, LaVine was impressive shooting the ball from deep, knocking down 37.5 percent of his three-pointers. He’s got holes elsewhere on offense, but his shooting will be a key for LaVine early in his NBA career.
- All-around offense
Taking his shooting and explosiveness in the open court out of the picture, LaVine is a very raw offensive player. He struggled with the ball in his hand in playmaking situations, whether that be in the pick and roll, or going one-on-one. LaVine also struggled to finish around the rim in the half-court, shooting a mere 45 percent around the basket. Another potential glaring issue is his inability to get to the free throw line. Of players in DraftExpress’ top-100, LaVine finished last in per-40 minute pace adjusted free throw attempts, getting to the line 2.8 times per-40 minutes.
Much like the offensive end, LaVine has a long way to go defensively. He’s got good, quick feet and hands, but struggles to get into a real guarding position. He seems to, at times, lack the intensity that he should have on the defensive end as well. He’s not extremely long, and needs to add on more muscle to really help in his improvement on the defensive side, while he also needs to work on showing he’s fully engaged on that end.
Conclusion LaVine is a tantalizing talent, but needs a lot of work on both ends. He’s extremely raw, especially on the defensive end, and could struggle to find the court early in his career without improvement on that end. His shooting and explosiveness will only be able to take him so far, especially against much more physical defense’s in the NBA.
He’s a project, and as the Magic continue their rebuild, he could be a fit. However, with his lack of ball handling skills and Victor Oladipo already in town, it’s hard to see how LaVine would fit with the Magic, unless he were to come off the bench. His best fit, at this time, would be on a team where he could be taken under a veteran’s wing, learn the ropes and grow as a player.