Post-NBA draft transcript from Zach LaVine, Minnesota coach Flip Saunders

Below are quotes from Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders and 13th overall draft pick Zach LaVine in their session with reporters, as transcribed by the team.

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Emotions that went through your mind when you were picked?
You know man, I’ve waited my whole life for this moment. It was just a rush of emotion that came through me, and I’m on cloud 9 still man, I’m ready, I put my head down and prayed to God, thank God, I just hugged my mom and I couldn’t believe this is happening. You think about this since you’re a little kid, and you just can’t believe it’s actually happening. I’m just ready to get to Minnesota and do my best.

Good impression the Wolves were high on you at No. 13?
You know, I know I had a really good workout with them. I talked to coach Flip Saunders and we had a great meeting. And then you know, I knew they were around my draft range so I was hoping for the best. When my name was called man, it was a jolt of energy through my body. It was amazing.

Did the Wolves promise they’d draft you?
No, you see it on Twitter, it was on Twitter a lot, and you know I didn’t want to confirm or anything like that or believe it until my agent or someone you know really close to me, the GM or owner told me. But you know, I knew it was a good thing no matter what, so I’m just ecstatic that it actually did come true.

Aware Twitter storm that you thought you were upset coming to Minnesota?
No man, I’m completely ecstatic. I couldn’t be more happy. I’m a very emotional person, so I might’ve uttered something completely wrong but I put my head down, thanked God, kissed my mom, kissed my dad, couldn’t believe this was happening to me right now. I’m going into Minnesota full-fledged ready to become a Timberwolf.

What do you think you can bring immediately with the team and how do you fit in the back court?
You know, it’s going to be a privilege to be back there. Ricky Rubio at the point right now, I can see me running lanes and hopefully catching some alley-oops getting on the break, spreading the floor. Maybe playing some back-up point if that’s what coach Saunders needs me to do. I’m just going to go in there and work my butt off to try and help you guys win.

On answering answers in the car w/ his dad getting prepared for NBA draft questions…
I always feel like you know my dad has prepared me for everything in life. I know this is a big day for him, and it’s completely, I’ve been ready for this process for a long time. I’m on cloud 9 now just knowing my name got called by the Minnesota Timberwolves and I’m in the NBA.

How long does this go back?
I was 6, 7, or 8 when my dad started giving me these little test interviews when we were riding in the car. So it’s crazy to think back on that.

What’s your focus this offseason?
I’ll do whatever they need me to do. I’m 185 pounds right now. I might not be the strongest dude, but neither was Allen Iverson coming into the league ­— he was 6 foot, 165 pounds. If they can’t touch you, that’s a good thing. I’ll use my speed to my advantage. I’m definitely going to get a lot stronger. I’m going to get in the weight room and do everything I need to do to help my body out, but right now I pride myself on being one of the hardest workers and I’m going to continue doing that.

On declaring for the NBA Draft?
I’m a very confident person. I knew what I was doing. I believe in my talents and I thought I was ready for this journey. There are a lot of doubters out there that I’ve been proving wrong throughout this whole process. I had one of the better pre-drafts and I’m making my dream become a reality. I don’t think a lot of people can say much now.

Can you still run a 10.9 100-meter dash?
I don’t know about that. I know it’s around there. I ran around a 4.5 40 and a sub-11 100 or something around there. I can get up.

On his 8 points in 3 NCAA games?
You’re not going to be perfect every game, and anything can happen in basketball. You know with us, we had such a great team and Coach Alford saw me coming off the bench. We had six potential pros on that team so we were rolling. And if I scored zero points in all those games, and we won them, I would have been perfectly fine with that.

On playing in the same city as H.S. teammate Josh Martin?
We went to high school together. We’re really good friends. And it’s crazy that we ended up in the same state again. I’m definitely going to see him a lot out there. I’m wishing him the best of luck out there in his freshman year at Minnesota.

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*FLIP SAUNDERS QUOTES (President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach)*

How’d it work?
It worked out good. He’s a guy we identified, when you look at our team you always have needs. When you look at what we have, we needed somebody who could create, get to the basket, get to the open floor. He’s a multi-position player. He can play the 2, he can play some 1. Athletically he’s the best athlete in the draft, and he has great speed. What I love about him is defensively this past year he had 28 iso situations and he got beat off the dribble one time. I believe he has the ability to be an elite type player.

Didn’t put up great numbers at UCLA. How did you project where his career can go?
That’s really what you have to do with a lot of European players. When you have European players, you don’t see them play a lot. We saw him a lot when he played. You have to look and see how he plays active when he does play. We saw him play at times on film in high school. We saw him a lot at UCLA. We talked to a lot of coaches. And we talked to a lot of players who played against him and getting their opinion on him. So it was a combination. But ultimately when he came in here, what impressed me was his size. He’s 6-5 1/2, possibly 6-6 and can grow because he’s so young. That’s really going to help him. He’s really got ball skills. He’s not just a guy that can run and jump and can only dribble the ball one dribble, two dribbles. He can handle the ball, he can shoot, and more than anything else he’s a gym rat. He loves to get into the gym. If you can take a guy that has some athleticism and has some skills and is willing to put the time in to develop those skills even more, you really have something special.

Ability to be a 2-way player?
He’s only 18 [Correction: he recently turned 19], so he’s going to have to improve on that, but he’s got the makings for what you look for. And as we got through the draft and I talked a lot about this last week, you look at ready-made players. Guys that can come in and maybe give a lot of help right away. He might not be as ready-made as some of the players, but you’re going to be able to point him out just because of how dynamic he is when he’s on the floor, he’s going to make something happen. When you look at that, that’s always something you have to look at. We’re excited, and this morning I took a piece of paper, put his name down and hoped he would be there. Fortunately for us he was there.

You worked him out here?

Great athlete, how about his IQ?
He’s going to give us that. It’s something you’re obviously going to have to work with, but when you talk to him in the interviews he’s at the edge of his seat gathering information from you, almost sort of like a sponge. He has the ability to be the total package, and people you talk to that have worked with him, he’s got some work to do. He’s willing to work, and that’s the main thing.

Is it tempting to go with ready-made talent?
You have to look at it both ways. What you have to try to do is sometimes you have to try and hit a home run. Some players you go after have to ability to hit a home run. Some players that are ready-made are only going to be doubles hitters. This guy has an opportunity to be a home run type player with development. I believe our staff is going to do a great job developing him. And he’s going to work at it. The thing I’m looking for with our team are players that have some physicality, that are aggressive, that want to play with some aggression, and players that have a good work ethic and love to get into the gym and work.

Russell Westbrook/Steph Curry comparison?
I told him when we were talking that he’s got to forge his own way of how he plays and what he does with his career. It’s nice to be in that comparison box with those players and it is because those players are all very dynamic, very athletic, and have been able to take their game of being an athlete and also become very skilled. This is not a player that I look at that is just an athlete. He shoots the ball pretty well and he’s going to shoot a lot better. And he’s got ball skills. He has the ability to tie all those things together.

Was this the ideal scenario?
It was a good scenario. A couple things had to break our way, but we felt comfortable with 1 through 16. So when we got to about 10 we were pretty confident knowing there were five guys on the board and we were comfortable with all five guys. Zach happened to be our top guy on our board. We had him rated like seventh. We had him rated pretty high just for what we needed. Some guys just based on position we bumped down because it wasn’t a position we needed. He’s been on our radar all year long. He’s been on our radar since last summer really.

On last year at UCLA …
I give him credit. He came off the bench. It was a tough situation at UCLA with the players they had. He was there with Coach Alford’s son. They were all there competing against each other and he kept pretty professional with the way he went about doing it. And was effective when he was on the court. I give him credit, you know he came off the bench, it’s a tough situation at UCLA with some of the players they had – he was there with Coach Alford’s son all competing against each other, and he kept pretty professional about how he went about doing things, and was effective when he was on the court.

On trading options tonight…
We had a few people calling trades for picks, as far as trades for players it was pretty quiet.

On writing the name down and putting it in his pocket…
I’ve never really done it before. You know we went back and forth. You know, we had two or three guys we really looked at, and as of about a day or two ago it changed back and forth. And we had all these players that were basically ranked seven, eight and nine on our board, and so basically it was one of those things where I just felt that, I felt that he was going to be there and just wrote it down and it worked out.

On if things heat up after the draft…
I don’t know, I’m sure they’ll be a lot of movement just because, you look at what some of these other teams have done and you’ve got some players that have fallen down that were rated higher and got taken a lot lower than they would expect, so, I mean there’ll be some things but I’m sure the next frenzy with our league will be July 1st when free agency starts and a lot of people really have the ability to have some movement.

On what he wants in the second round…
Well what I’d like to see is I’d like to see some guys we have at the end of the first round that slide and if there’s a quality guy there. I don’t know if we’ll keep all three picks, you know, because right now with our first pick we’re looking right now at 13 roster spots so, for flexibility-wise, you know, we’ll probably add one more to our roster that’s going to make our team. So if we get a good guy in the second round, otherwise we’ll try to see if we can move a pick or two and maybe get a pick next year and work it that way.

On LaVine playing with Ricky Rubio…
I think he’ll play well with Ricky, because one—he’s a highlight reel. Ricky loves to throw lob passes and he’ll have no one better to throw it to than him. By the time he’s done, you know he’s probably going to be about 6-foot-7, high flyer, and he can take some pressure off Ricky bringing the ball up. I believe sometimes, you know Ricky, we really didn’t have on our roster, outside of our point guards, we didn’t have really a two-guard that you could put out there that could handle the ball a little bit and take some pressure off playing with Rubio. So eventually this is what he’s going to be able to do.

On if he’s talked to Ricky…
I haven’t, we just drafted him so I haven’t had a chance…

On when he plans on talking to Ricky…
When he gets back from Brazil. He’s got a camp in Spain, but we texted the other day when he went down there and talked this past Sunday, so I’m sure he’ll give me a call if he’s enjoying it, even though he thought Spain would still be there I guess.

On talking to Zach after…
I haven’t talked, I talked to his agent, and I’ll talk to him when I get back up there.

On him potentially being disappointed…
No, I didn’t see it, but I doubt it because, when I talked to his agent the whole time his agent said this is where he wanted to come and that it would be a great opportunity for him.

  • UCLA owns LA Football

    For those that agree with Saunders, I’m sure Alford will win an NC b4 Saunders gets the T-Wolves near a conf. final berth. Just because Zach can leap like a Gibbon, it doesn’t mean he should start for one year and leave Alford w/o an experienced PG.

  • LTEfan

    LaVine did not seem pleased when Silver announced that he was headed to Minnesota, if I read lips correctly. Apparently, they are not sold on him as a point guard prospect given that Rubio is in place at that position. If they did want a point guard, they have the wrong Shabazz on their roster, because Napier is going to be a very good NBA point guard.

  • Len

    Zach is a very athletic combo guard who can shoot and this is exactly what the Wolves particularly off the bench…..F…….Me is slang for surprised.