Zach Lavine: Believe the Hype?

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Is Zach Lavine all hype or will he make an impact in the NBA? Will he be able to produce right away or will he have to wait a couple years to develop? Allen Ojeda attempts to answer these questions by looking at stats and game-film.

Zach Lavine is making waves in the basketball world with his athleticism, posting unprecedented measurements and achievements in the combine and team workouts. Is the hype surrounding Zach warranted or is he a bust waiting to happen?

The Basics

Height w/ shoes: 6’6"

Weight: 181 lb

Wingspan: 6’8.25"

Birthday: 3/10/1995 (19 years old)

Freshman Year Stats: 9.4 PPG/ 2.5 RPG/ 1.8 APG/ 44.1 FG%/ 37.5 3P%


When Zach plays, he enamors spectators with his tremendous athleticism. With a highlight tape filled with an array of violent and wild dunks, Zach has shown he is one of the best athletic prospects coming out of the draft in years. At the combine he measured a 33.5" no-step vertical and a max vertical of 41.5". That’s Vince Carter level.

Although his shot isn’t fundamentally sound or aesthetically pleasing, he was one of the more consistent and productive shooters in college last season. During the first 3 or so months of the season he shot 42 of 97 from deep. What makes Zach a special shooter though is his versatility. His film shows him making shots off the dribble, spotted up, and coming off screens.

Lavine struggles tremendously in the half-court, finishing at the basket, and with drawing fouls. He has a tendency of taking too many meaningless dribbles eating up the shot clock (sound familiar?), playing at a slower pace, and with his basketball IQ. His inability to read a defense properly at the next level makes me wonder if he can make an offensive impact in his first 2-3 years. Through his 37 collegiate games he only made 17 shots at the rim. Mind you, he’s 6’6" and is one of the best athletes in all of college. I would bet money that YOU could finish more shots at the rim in 37 games than he did. Lastly, Lavine posted the worst free-throw rate per 40 minutes (2.8 times) in all of DraftExpress’ top-100 prospects.



Okay fine, his defense isn’t that bad, but it’s close. He has the quickness and athletic ability to be at least an average defender at the 2-guard spot, but he is lacking in fundamentals, focus, and effort. I see him having issues with NBA defensive-schemes as well as players taking advantage of his lack of attentiveness on defense. As well, he lacks strength as a player. Although he has good size, big guards like Joe Johnson will bully him in the post. I do not see him cracking an NBA rotation as long as he’s playing subpar defense, he has to make the necessary adjustments to get his minutes.

Should the Rockets draft him?

From the film that I have watched and articles that I have read I would not draft him. He is being hyped up due to his athleticism and flash, but there are too many concerning holes in his game. Although he fits into the Rockets’ system as a good transition player and shooter, his shot selection, finishing ability, and his failure to draw fouls poses a slur of question marks. The way I view it, at 25 with the state of the Rockets, a player who could come off the bench immediately or be stored overseas for a year or two would be ideal, not a prospect who will eat up cap space while having to take 2-3 years to develop and make an impact.

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