Zach LaVine is widely expected to have a breakout season as the Minnesota Timberwolves take another step forward building around Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
“He's a big piece of what we're doing,” Tom Thibodeau said. “His shooting is critical. He shot the ball very well in the second half of last season. We need that 3-point shooting to open up the floor. His athleticism, the way he can run the floor. And there's no reason he can't be an excellent defensive player.”
Only four eligible guards finished last season with a worse Defensive Real Plus Minus than LaVine, which means Thibodeau will have a long ways to go to make him an excellent defensive player.
While LaVine is a shooting guard, it is difficult to compare him to any other player at the position in the NBA.
"There's so many different styles to it,” LaVine said. “I use my athletic ability to create shots for open people, I run the floor, then also space the floor as well. That’s what I try to do. I try to space the floor and use my athletic ability to get to the rim. … I try to get the best of both worlds.”
“We all love Zach. I think he’s more popular than me and Wigs combined, just for the fact that he’s won two slam dunk contests in a row,” Towns said. “But Zach’s a pivotal piece of the team. The way he shoots the ball and makes highly contested shots, it helps us tremendously, especially with his 3-point range. Zach’s one of the players who we're tremendously lucky to have as an athlete and as a shooter.”