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.