Minnesota’s Zach LaVine plays “tentative,” struggles in preseason

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Among the good things going on with the up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves there is this:

The Zach LaVine at point guard experiment is over. When Ricky Rubio got injured last season LaVine was thrown into the role and the results were not pretty (the team averaged 96.7 points per 100 possessions when he was at the point, that’s Sixers level offense). With Rubio back plus Andre Miller and Tyus Jones in house, LaVine can be moved to the two-guard spot.

But the athletic second-year player is struggling there, too. From Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

Zach LaVine is 3-for-19 from the field in his first two games since Mitchell named him the starter and shooting guard of the future. He was 1-for-8 Saturday, making his last shot late in the game. LaVine played nearly 28 minutes. Kevin Martin played 12 off the bench.

“Zach right now is playing very tentative,” Mitchell said. “We knew we were going to have to be patient. He’s probably thinking too much, and that’s probably natural for young guys. We have to get him to play more and stop thinking so much.”

Minnesota is not in a win-now place, they should be giving their young players heavy run — including Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns —  and letting them learn by trial and error. It’s the preseason, but even when the games count Minnesota needs to look at the big picture, not trying to win in the short term.

I have no idea if he can be a quality starting NBA two guard, but what is the point of pulling him for Kevin Martin right now. Let him learn from his struggles.

Oh, and be sure he enters the dunk contest again.