Through Summer League, LaVine Demonstrates His Potential
If there’s one word you’ve heard used to describe Zach LaVine since he was drafted by the Timberwolves, chances are, it was “potential”. Whether it was during his tenure at Bothell High School—where he was honored as Washington’s “Mr. Basketball”—or after he was briefly ranked fifth on Chad Ford’s Mock Draft, it’s a word that’s followed him time and time again.
Given that LaVine has some impressive offensive skills, had a great start to his collegiate career and is only 19 years old, it’s fair to say that “potential” is an accurate word to describe LaVine’s future. But, now that LaVine has completed his first three professional NBA games in the Summer League, fans may be wondering how much of that potential he’s shown against NBA caliber competition.
The answer: a lot.
Looking solely at box scores, people may be perplexed as to where this potential is being shown. But LaVine demonstrated the definition of potential during his first games—showing the capacity to develop into something in the future.
In his first Summer League contest, LaVine displayed his shooting abilities but sometimes looked lost on defense. Playing point guard, he turned the ball some, which can be attributed to the nerves that come with inexperience.
In his second contest, LaVine showed fans something they hadn’t seen before—an aggressive style of play that fought through contact driving into the lane. He also improved his defensive focus, correcting his mistakes from the first game and distributing the ball much more effectively. LaVine shot 10 free-throws in his second game while grabbing seven rebounds. It’s those kinds of realizations and improvements, along with the fact that LaVine is usually the quickest player on the court, that could turn LaVine’s potential into a real NBA threat.
Potential is used to describe NBA players every off-season, arguably far too often. With that said, it’s turning out to be valid in LaVine’s case. That’s why Summer League is more important than any stretch of games that LaVine has played in thus far. Proving that he’s able to capitalize on his strengths and improve his weaknesses will provide the coaching staff proof that he deserves meaningful minutes during the season.
LaVine has often said that one of his goals is to continually improve. With a bit more of a defensive focus and an off-season in the weight room, LaVine could turn out to be one of the most exciting guards that came out of the 2014 NBA Draft. Only time will tell, but early returns on LaVine’s progress with a professional training and coaching staff have proved to help his game already.