Lakers NBA Draft Prospect Watch: UCLA’s Zach LaVine

ZachLaVineThe most intriguing prospect in college basketball this season may be hidden right here in Los Angeles.

Although this freshman wasn’t as heralded by recruiting experts as some of his peers, Zach LaVine is a name that has been known for quite some time by the scouts.

The UCLA Bruin has skyrocketed up the prospect chart due to being a 6’5″ explosive guard who can play either the one or the two.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? An explosive combo type guard coming out of UCLA? It would be easy to draw a comparison to Russell Westbrook, but the scary thing is he might ACTUALLY play like him.

Like Westbrook, LaVine is an athletic freak who can get up and down the court and jump out of the gym. Look at this back door cut for an easy slam.

Although LaVine has come off the bench (like Westbrook had to his freshman year) he is still playing over 25 minutes a game. In that time the righty from Seattle is averaging 12.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

The most impressive thing about his game though may be his stroke from the three-point line. He’s shooting over 45% from deep but looks ultra confident in his shot whether it be coming off a curl screen or being wide open off a broken play. Wasn’t that one of Westbrook’s negatives coming into the league? He seems to shoot it okay now I’d say.

Another reason why he is being labeled as the next coming of Westbrook is his late blooming. Westbrook wasn’t a household name when he stepped onto campus in Westwood. LaVine has already grown two inches in the last year, and that’s a scary thought.

With the Bruins already having a point guard in Kyle Anderson, LaVine gets almost all of his minutes off the ball. But when he is attacking off the dribble and creating for others, there’s a hint that he definitely could be a one at the next level. Though he would still have to prove that he can run an offense and get others going consistently, this is one reason NBA Executives seem to be falling in love with LaVine more and more.

The long arms and quickness of LaVine also translates to the defensive side of the ball just as well. He seems to take pride in his defense and doesn’t just focus on where his next shot will come from. This is a great trait to have when your strongest part of your game is getting out into transition and making highlight reel dunks like this one against a now nationally ranked Missouri team.

If the Lakers continue to play at their current level, LaVine would be a perfect pick for a team that has been killed by the pick and roll for years. They have lacked that athletic guard for some time now and LaVine would be the perfect answer. Though it may take some time for LaVine to adjust to not being a pure scorer, the patience necessary for such a young talent might just be worth it.

LaVine told Sports Illustrated, “That’s my ultimate goal, is to get to the NBA. With the one-and-done, I don’t know about that yet. I feel like anyone would consider it. It’s going to be a decision me and my family make at the end of the year.”

If you haven’t seen LaVine this season, get to it before he goes top 10 like most scouts are projecting.

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