Reminiscing With Ratke | Don't Worry about LaVine
We received the news on Saturday afternoon that Wolves shooting guard Zach LaVine tore his ACL in Friday’s matchup against the Pistons in Detroit.
Obviously, that was horrible news.
LaVine, who is only 21 years old, was having the best season of his career, averaging 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and three assists per game. LaVine was also shooting 45.9 percent from the field, 38.7 percent from the 3-point line and 83.6 percent from the free-throw line.
It was clear that Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau was saddened of the news when he addressed the media on Saturday evening.
“Obviously you feel for Zach,” Thibodeau said. “First and foremost just who he is as a person. Obviously what he means to our team and the type of teammate that he is. Really disappointing. He’ll respond and he’ll come back better than ever. He put so much work into the season, to have the type of season he had going, so that’s really what you feel for.”
I was an intern when the late Flip Saunders and the Wolves drafted LaVine in 2014 with the 13th overall pick. I remember after he was drafted Saunders couldn’t stop talking about LaVine’s work ethic and how he was a complete gym rat. Was taking LaVine a risk at No. 13? Sure. He was a boom or bust type of pick. But with how hard he's worked and given the way he’s progressed in his career, now one of the league’s best scoring two-guards, it looks like he’ll be a boom.
He’s proven that he’s a great dunker, sure. But he’s also proven he’s so much more than that. And for anyone doubting LaVine in his rehab process, be prepared to be wrong. LaVine will attack his rehab process the way he attacks his day-to-day work as a basketball player.
It sounds weird to say someone will be better than ever after an injury like this. But with LaVine, it might actually be true.
What Can Lance Stephenson Bring?
On Wednesday morning, the Wolves signed wing Lance Stephenson to a 10-day contract. You remember Stephenson, probably, from his time in Indiana as a defensive stopper and a guy who could fill the stat sheet.
It was only three seasons ago when Stephenson averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game and ranked first in the NBA with five triple-doubles.
Sidenote: This season, Russell Westbrook has 25 triple-doubles and James Harden has 14. That’s freaking insane.
Is he the same player? No. But it’s a chance for Stephenson to get his career back on track and Thibodeau hinted to that on Wednesday morning. It seems like Stephenson has been around forever, but he’s only 26. There’s plenty of time for him to turn things around and get back to the player he was. Plus, Stephenson has had more than three months off after tearing his groin. He’s had surgery and is healthy.
And for Thibodeau, it’s a guy who is hardnosed and loves to play defense. That sounds like a Thibodeau-kind of guy, doesn’t it?
We are about a week out from the All-Star Break. Karl-Anthony Towns will be representing the Wolves in the Rising Stars Challenge and we’ll have plenty of coverage for you on our social media channels and our website.
And after All-Star Weekend, we are just four days away from the trade deadline.
It should be pretty interesting to see how the deadline shapes up. In the East, there are four teams within three games of the eight seed. And in the West, there are five teams within five games of the eight seed, including the Timberwolves.
Will this mean there will be more buyers, sellers or will more teams stay put?
That’s a very good question and I have no idea what the answer is. Stay tuned!
As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your week and the weekend.