Projecting the Wolves’ starting shooting guard


The Wolves’ roster has a boatload of talent at every position.

A projected rotation of Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine/Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Kevin Garnett, and Karl-Anthony Towns is very intriguing. The projected lineup has youth, quickness, athleticism, and experience. It has everything you could ask for, for a team coming off a 16-win season.

However, there is one spot in the Timberwolves’ starting lineup that could be up for grabs, pending each players individual play in training camp — the shooting guard position.

Zach LaVine is entering his second NBA season at only 20 years old. What did you do when you were 20 years old? I ate Chipotle and watched Seinfeld.

LaVine is mega-talented and not only that but he has also been labeled as a gym rat, which should make any Timberwolves’ fan excited. Before LaVine’s rookie season, there wasn’t an expectation for him. LaVine wasn’t even expected to play.

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He was a raw talent who needed to be taught and molded into a contributing player. However, that plan was tossed out when Ricky Rubio injured his ankle against the Orlando Magic just five games into the 2014-15 season.

The idea of the Wolves signing another point guard was a major topic after Rubio went down. LaVine wasn’t ready to appear in his first NBA action just five games into the regular season but the organization let him play. They let him experience the up and downs of the NBA and now, LaVine is a full NBA season ahead of his projected schedule.

Because Flip Saunders elected not to sign another point guard, LaVine was forced to learn how to run an NBA offense on the fly. He had to learn how to get other players involved offensively. He had to learn how to construct a pick-and-roll on offense and how to defend the elite point guards in the NBA.

Of course, it’s important to note that LaVine’s natural position is shooting guard.

But even though LaVine’s natural position is shooting guard, many of the point guard skills he learned his rookie season can and should translate to the shooting guard spot. Just because you’re labeled as a shooting guard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how to get your teammates involved or learn how to set up a pick-and-roll on offense.

He’s an unbelievable talent who finished off last season averaging over 20 points per game in the final month. He can get his shot off any time he wants too due to his athletic ability, which should be taken as a blessing and a curse.

LaVine does need to learn how to shield his body away from the defender so he can finish at the rim better or draw fouls to get to the free-throw line. LaVine had a weak structure last year. If he got stronger in the off-season, he should be able to finish with a higher field goal percentage in the paint. He’s not afraid to take the big-time shot at the end of games, either.

Remember his game in Utah last year?

Also, Rubio has been an injury-prone player for much of his NBA career and if Rubio gets injured again, LaVine should be able to handle the point guard duties.

Now, let’s break down Kevin Martin.

Kevin Martin will be entering his third season in a Timberwolves’ uniform. He has two years left on his contract, so a trade in the next year or two for the veteran who will be 32 years-old in February cannot be ruled out.

While Martin could be a very valuable spark plug coming off the bench for a contending team, he’s also very valuable to the Wolves. He’s the only true dead-eye three point shooter on the team.

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  • Martin has always been a scorer but never much of a defender. He does draw a lot of fouls, giving the offense easy points at the free-throw line, but often times Martin goes into isolation mode which can result in poor shot selection.

    I am in love with the idea of Kevin Martin leading the second unit. Martin’s a scorer and a scorer only. If the starting five is struggling, in comes Kevin Martin, who could drop 10 points in a matter of minutes.

    Zach LaVine still has a lot to learn and a lot to improve. I don’t trust his shot selection yet. LaVine will be a “love him one second, but hate him a couple seconds later” type of player. That’s just the way he plays.

    There are a lot of question marks remaining with LaVine and to begin the 2015-16 season, expect to see Kevin Martin in the starting lineup. That could change mid-season, however.

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