Zach LaVine’s dunks light up Seattle Pro-Am

A reminder that Zach LaVine is still very, very good at dunking.

One pre-draft comparison lobbed about for UCLA’s one-and-done guard was Gerald Green, who a former dunk contest champ who finally turned himself into a serviceable NBA player this past season.

LaVine might not become a superstar, but he’s going to earn a ticket to All-Star weekend on hops alone.

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Alford: LaVine took advantage of UCLA brand, system to raise draft stock

In Steve Alford’s estimation, it wasn’t just Zach LaVine’s freakish athleticism that vaulted the freshman into the elite lottery portion of Thursday night’s NBA draft.

Wearing the UCLA letters across his chest for his lone collegiate season had plenty to do with LaVine becoming the 13th overall selection by the Minnesota Timberwolves, not to mention the fast-paced offensive approach employed by UCLA’s first-year coach.

“(LaVine) came in and he used the brand and this system,” Alford said. “I’ve always said it’s a very, very powerful brand and I think our style of play getting up and down the floor allows somebody like that to flourish and he had a tremendous freshman year.”

Though LaVine played just 37 college basketball games before achieving such lofty status, Alford didn’t know he had a lottery pick on his hands when the freshman reported to Westwood last summer.

“I don’t think you ever think that,” Alford said. “The NBA is a whole different level and mind set. We saw him this summer and he had incredible athleticism.

“To say we saw him being a lottery pick last summer, no.”

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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.

# # #

*ZACH LaVINE QUOTES*

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. Continue reading

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Zach LaVine is not excited* to join the Minnesota Timberwolves

With their 13th overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected UCLA’s Zach LaVine. He was not thrilled.

To be fair, LaVine isn’t headed into an ideal situation. The 6-foot-5 guard had predicted going to the Phoenix Suns –likely one spot later rather than at No. 18 — and he’ll instead join a franchise that ranks among one of the most inept in the league. With star forward Kevin Love almost certainly on his way out, the roster might only return three players who average double-digit scoring.

As a consolation (?), he could play alongside fellow former UCLA guard Shabazz Muhammad, whom the Timberwolves picked 14th overall in 2013.

Also, I hear it’s cold in Minnesota. Good luck, Zach.

*UPDATE: Reporters asked LaVine whether or not he was aware that Twitter thought he was upset.

“No man, I’m completely ecstatic,” he said. “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.”

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Shabazz Muhammad headed to Minnesota as No. 14 pick

In one of most unpredictable NBA drafts ever, Shabazz Muhammad stuck close to his spot in most mock drafts.

The Utah Jazz drafted the former UCLA standout at No. 14 and traded him to Minnesota. The Timberwolves had agreed to swap former Michigan point guard Trey Burke, the No. 8 pick, for the 14th and 21st picks.

The Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year’s fall to the bottom of the lottery was a disappointment when compared to the hype he generated on the prep and AAU circuits.

Among the names that went before Muhammad: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Steven Adams, Kelly Olynyk. Right after Muhammad was selected, the Milwaukee Bucks picked Giannis Antetokounmpo — the first Greek player drafted since 2000.

“I think he’s actually worth a higher pick than this,” ESPN announcer Jay Bilas said of Muhammad. “When you take the risk-reward decision, this is a good spot for him.” Continue reading

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