Skip to main content

Will Zach LaVine be the next Russell Westbrook?

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

They are both guards from UCLA, both excel in the open floor, both are versatile and both are regarded as superior athletes.

It is almost impossible to watch Zach LaVine and not think of Oklahoma City superstar Russell Westbrook.

The blog Canis Hoopus took a detailed look at both and found many similarities between LaVine and Westbrook.

"Surprisingly, the metics show that Westbrook and LaVine are a lot closer than anyone would probably expect. Westbrook only did one thing vastly better than LaVine in college (free throw rate) and had the same huge doubts about position and decision making as a draft prospect."

The most obvious similarity between Westbrook and LaVine is their athleticism.

Here is Westbrook:

And LaVine:

Like Westbrook, LaVine's athleticism will likely make him a threat in the open floor, and that's exactly how Flip Saunders is setting up his new offense.

The Wolves will try and put LaVine in a position to be successful.

FOX Sports Net reports that Saunders is calling for more fast break offense. The changes have already started with the players (including LaVine) participating in the NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas.

"It's very tough, honestly," said second-year big man Gorgui Dieng to FOX Sports Net. "A lot of running, and we just keep going. It's very hard."

With LaVine, last year's top pick, Shabazz Muhammad, and 2014 second-rounder Glenn Robinson III leading the way, the Wolves are showing glimpses of being a run-and-gun team.

The style allows LaVine to use his athleticism and has led to several electrifying dunks during summer league games.

But it might not be LaVine's athleticism that defines his NBA stardom. It might be how he uses that athletic ability.

Canis Hoopus says the biggest difference between LaVine and Westbrook is a negative for the Timberwolves rookie to overcome. It comes with how the two get to the free-throw line.

"Free throw rate. LaVine's was awful at UCLA. He averaged just 1.8 FTA a game to 7.8 FGA...a free throw rate of just .230. This is what's at the core of a lot of the gaps in LaVine's game, from the settling for long twos to the floaters in traffic. LaVine doesn't just take contact poorly, he often actively avoids it, either through crazy acrobatics or simply not driving in the first place."

Westbrook, by comparison had one of the best free-throw rate's at UCLA (.380). He now has one of the best free-throw rate's in the NBA (.480).

Westbrook has harnessed the ability, can LaVine do the same thing? Only time will tell.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-07-06 at 7.45.25 PM

Four shot in alley near St. Cloud State campus

Police say an argument led to gunfire.

MPR

Acclaimed investigative podcast 'In the Dark' canceled by American Public Media

The Peabody Award-winning investigative podcast earned national acclaim.

Screenshot of the incident showing a teacher throw a hockey stick at a second-grade student at a Sherburne County school.

Former MN teacher charged for knocking student's tooth out with hockey stick

Kimberly June Neubauer has been charged with third-degree assault and is no longer a teacher at Princeton Public Schools.

Screen Shot 2022-07-06 at 11.56.59 AM

Guthrie cancels 'Emma' performances, Illusion Theater delays premiere due to COVID

The pandemic is continuing to leave theater seats empty in the Twin Cities.

Ellie Ragin

Property owners asked to monitor river shorelines in ongoing search for Elle Ragin

Investigators are focusing their search on the Mississippi River in Stearns County.

Shots fired scene

Over 100 shots fired in Brooklyn Center, no injuries reported

Police said they haven't learned of any injuries as of Wednesday.

Screen Shot 2022-07-06 at 12.37.52 PM

Unleashed, off-duty police K-9 attacks boy in Isanti

The attack involved an Anoka County Sheriff's Office K-9, named Bubba.

Michael Bruner

New 'Big Brother' season includes a Minnesota attorney

Michael Bruner will compete against 15 other houseguests starting Wednesday night.

grain bin, farming

Man, 34, dies after being found unresponsive in grain bin

The incident happened in Stearns County Tuesday afternoon.

image

Laser pointed at plane descending into MSP Airport

Nationwide, laser pointing incidents rose 42% last year compared to 2020.

Screen Shot 2022-07-06 at 9.48.02 AM

Gray's restaurant in Dinkytown to close in July

The restaurant, formerly known as Loring Pasta Bar, had only been open since late 2020.

Related