Report: UCLA’s Zach LaVine to declare for NBA Draft

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UCLA’s Zach LaVine is what scouts could call “bouncy.”

The 6’5” swingman has real hops and athleticism, some solid handles and he shot 38.4 percent from three this season — and he is taking his game to the NBA next season, his father told the Los Angeles Daily News. That came after LaVine’s 2-of-7 for 5 points night against Florida in the Sweet 16.

He could well be a trio of UCLA players leaving for the draft — Kyle Anderson has already all but declared for the draft as well. Personally if I could take one guy off the UCLA team for my NBA team it would be Jordan Adams, the guy is a natural scorer, but he has not yet made an announcement.

LaVine has fantastic athleticism but his game is not NBA ready right now, he’s a guy you’ve got to develop. He clearly feels stuck in the rotation in Westwood, like he’s not getting his chance. His handles are fine for college but need work at the next level, as does his shot and defense. The big question is can he convince an NBA GM that his potential is worth a first round pick — which means a couple years of guaranteed money and investment. If he falls to the second round there is no guaranteed money or roster spot.

LaVine is considered a bubble first rounder. His father told the Daily News they were told he would go around 22, the traditionally pretty accurate DraftExpress had LaVine at 30, the last pick in the first round.

PBT’s Draft expert, Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com, is not a fan of this move.

To me, LaVine is exactly the kind of player who should stay in school. I believe you should only come out early if you are a lock first-round pick — UCLA’s Anderson is that, and while I’m not as sold as some on his NBA fit and development he will develop faster in the NBA than with another year in college. He made the right move.

LaVine is going to have to kill it at the NBA Draft Combine and in team workouts to get a team to use a first round pick on him. If not he will get taken in the second round but that comes with no guarantees. He could end up in the D-League next season (which is a very good place to develop as well, if that’s all LaVine wants) or as the non-guaranteed guy on the end of the NBA bench that starts the season with the team but gets cut loose in December when the team moves to bring in a veteran. Not sure that’s the dream, if he went back college for a season he could be a solid first rounder next year.

But he made his call and those around the UCLA program seemed to expect it. LaVine is going pro.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.