The lasting image fans will have in their minds after NBA All-Star weekend won’t have anything to do with the game itself. No, All-Star weekend belonged to Zach Lavine, who dazzled the world with an impressive array of aerial acrobatics. Lavine’s dunks have put him firmly in the national spotlight, and the time is now to capitalize.
Playing in Minnesota doesn’t allow Lavine ample time on the court, as the the team features a host of young talent. However, with the departure of Mo Williams, Lavine has a chance to be the team’s backup point guard behind Ricky Rubio. Although, his best shot at playing time might come at the expense of Kevin Martin, whom Minnesota has been feverishly trying to trade for the better part of a year.
Lavine is going to be featured on the court for Minnesota, as the team didn’t draft him out of UCLA with the 13th overall pick for nothing. Lavine did struggle at times during his college career at UCLA, which included him not reaching double figure point totals in 14 of the Bruins final 18 games.
Regardless, of those stats, numerous NBA scouts saw enough potential from Lavine to deem him first round worthy, some even comparing him to former Bruin, and current Oklahoma City Thunder star, Russell Westbrook.
This season, Lavine has shown some flashes of brilliance. When starting point guard Ricky Rubio went down with injury, Lavine took advantage. Shifting from starting role to sixth man numerous time during Rubio’s absence, Lavine had some impressive box scores. During a 120-119 win against the Los Angeles Lakers, he became only the second teenager to have at least 25 points and five assists as a reserve in a game.
His success continued on December 6th against the San Antonio Spurs. Lavine recorded his first double double against the defending champs, scoring 22 points and tallying 10 assists, becoming just the fourth teenager to post those numbers in the history of the NBA.
So, while his college pedigree wasn’t on par with that of teammate Andrew Wiggins, Lavine has proven he can hang at the pro level. Eventually, Minnesota will find Lavine some playing time, and once that happens his dunks won’t be the only thing worth remembering.