Zach LaVine to start at shooting guard for Timberwolves


The Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2015-16 starting lineup just became a lot more interesting.

In a interview with Justin Termine and former NBA player Eddie Johnson, Sam Mitchell announced that Zach LaVine will start the season as the starting shooting guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Head coach Sam Mitchell and general manager Milt Newton are sticking with their previous comments during media day when they basically said that development and giving the young players a chance to play is most important right now.

LaVine has been the talk of camp. One day Wiggins said that he scored forty points during a scrimmage. On my radio show, Sidney Lowe said, “At times, LaVine has been the best player on the court.”

The 190-pound gym rat who put on ten pounds of muscle and bought a sweet new car during the off-season has been the most talked about and most impressive thus far in camp. LaVine has said that he wants to be known for more than just his dunking ability, and right now, he’s doing just that.

Kevin Martin made comments during his media day press conference in which he basically said, “I’m the starter.” How will Martin’s attitude more than anything transition to the sixth-man off the bench role? When Martin fails to shake his teammates hand once during the first game of the year and it’s reported that Martin has “issues coming off the bench” (or something like that happens), how will he handle that situation?

If Martin eventually were to ask to be traded to another team, his wish may not be granted. First of all, Martin does not have much leverage. Martin is 32 years of age and he will receive interest, but the Timberwolves’ won’t receive much for him.

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Secondly, the Wolves don’t have much at the shooting guard position behind LaVine and Martin, and don’t expect Tayshaun Prince or Shabazz Muhammad to be the backup shooting guard. Finally, if Martin does choose to stop trying defensively, well….his defense can’t be any worse from the previous two seasons, anyway.

To be clear, Martin has stated that he’s “never going to be a guy who chases a ring” and he wants “to be part of a family type atmosphere”, so concerns about his attitude and demeanor could be entirely unfounded.

Winning cures all team issues, but losing spreads issues like an unstoppable disease. If the Wolves start the season struggling to find their rhythm, Kevin Martin could be thinking, “um, this wouldn’t be happening if I was starting.”

As for the Martin-LaVine relationship: it’s good……right now.

Zach LaVine averaged 21.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game while shooting 47% from the field in the month of April last season. It was only eight games, but if that’s a sign of things to come, we would all be very pleased. LaVine was a player who wasn’t even supposed to play until the 2015-16 season because he was such a raw talent. And now he finds himself the starter at just 20 years of age.

It will definitely be an exciting season. But let’s pump the breaks just a bit. There will be growing pains and LaVine isn’t an All-Star, yet.

A couple more tidbits in advance of Wednesday’s preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder:

  • Tyus Jones is starting tonight along with LaVine, Wiggins, Garnett, and Towns as Rubio will sit for precautionary reasons.
  • Very interesting that Tyus is starting over Andre Miller tonight. It might mean nothing, but it could definitely mean something. While it could be something to keep an eye on — especially if Tyus plays well — it’s likely nothing more than trying to keep Miller with something resembling the usual second unit.
  • Rubio is expected to be ready for the regular season.
  • The game is not being broadcast live on television, but you can hear it on 830 WCCO.

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