The Seattle SuperSonics took a gamble by using their 4th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft on an athletic point guard out of UCLA named Russell Westbrook. The risk of pairing he and Kevin Durant was well worth the risk.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are hoping for similar results after joining Zach LaVine with the 2014 number one overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins.
LaVine shocked basketball analysts when he declared early for the draft after a mediocre freshman year at UCLA, which included being benched during the final part of the season.
But LaVine’s draft stock quickly rose after displaying uncanny athleticism at the combine.
The Los Angeles Lakers were amongst teams considering selecting him with their top-ten selection after a remarkable workout.
LaVine is averaging six points a game while getting acclimated to the NBA.
“It’s a learning process, no question. It’s a learning process with Zach,” coach Flip Saunders said. “He made some mistakes. He made some plays. We just have to keep on working with him.”
But recent history is in the T’Wolves favor. UCLA Bruins like Kevin Love, Trevor Ariza, Jrue Holiday, Arron Afflalo, Darren Collison, and Jordan Farmar have all had major impacts in the NBA.
But LaVine must learn to be effective without simply relying on his athleticism.
Playing alongside Wiggins, as Westbrook with Durant, should relieve him of any immediate pressure to produce, and give him time to develop into another heralded UCLA Bruin NBA player.