Outside the Draft Box: Zach LaVine; Capital V for Vertical

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Mitch Kupchak told the media on Wednesday, that he is open to acquiring more draft picks.  He’s willing to do anything to upgrade the roster’s talent altogether.  That could possibly mean trading players for draft picks, accepting bad contracts for draft picks, or even trading down.  Zach Lavine could be a guy he’s after.

Jan 16, 2014; Boulder, CO, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Zach LaVine (14) shoots against Colorado Buffaloes guard Xavier Talton (3) in the first half at the Coors Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

How does Zach LaVine come into the picture?

Zach LaVine is a UCLA freshman with elite athletic ability and length by position.  However, that position is undetermined.  Out of Bothell High School in Washington, he played point guard.  He wasn’t a typical playmaking point guard.  He was a scorer through and through.  While he may not have the ball-handling tricks of Pistol Pete Maravich out of high school, he does have perimeter shooting that is unusually accurate for an elite-athlete freshman.

So, what can Zach LaVine do?

Zach LaVine is an above-average ball-handler and perimeter shooter by age.  Usually, elite athletes out of high school get away with athletic talent.  They out-run, out-jump, and out-power opponents.  LaVine has tremendous breakaway speed in transition, but his ability to shoot from the perimeter his highly developed.  He excels at catch-and-shoot situations from 20′. When he opts to drive and pull-up from midrange, he’s average at best. However, because of his ball-handling and explosiveness, there is tremendous potential to develop his midrange jumpshot off-the-dribble.

Zach LaVine’s highlight reel out of high school screams lottery pick.


That’s not all.  Draftexpress took his measurements at the Chicago PreDraft camp. Listed at roughly 6’5″ with a 6’8″ wingspan and elite vertical ability, the tremendous upside is there.  He is not to be mistaken with another famous combo guard out of UCLA, Russell Westbrook.  Westbrook did not have a polished jumpshot, nor was he the a top option offensively.  What Westbrook showed out of UCLA was the ability to play defense and attack the paint.  He too, had tremendous combine scores.  The rest is history.

In fact, LaVine did better than Westbrook when it came to vertical leaping.  He set a new record, doing better than Peyton Siva’s 44″ vertical just a year ago.


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