Zach LaVine: “I’m More Than Just Flashy Dunks, I Want To Be The Best Rookie”

We spoke at length with Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Zach LaVine earlier this summer at the Seattle Pro-Am All Star Game. Yesterday, we caught up with LaVine again at the NBA rookie photoshoot in New York to talk about the dunk contest and his expectations for the upcoming season.

When I playfully asked LaVine what a potential nickname jersey of his would say, he immediately responded, “‘No way,’ For no way you could guard me.” Another option he mentioned was “Bounce Avenue.”

It’s easy to see why that latter nickname fits LaVine. Even at the photoshoot yesterday, he showed off his dunking abilities in an impromptu three-way contest with Glenn Robinson III and Andrew Wiggins.

“That’s just the flashy stuff, but I’ve been trying to work on my whole game,” LaVine told me when I asked about his highlight reel so far this summer. LaVine’s brought fans to their feet regularly at summer league and the Seattle Pro-Am.

“I thought I had a really good summer league,” LaVine said. “I know people see the Pro-Am and the dunks, but I had 38 points in the game but no one noticed. But that’s okay. I know people love the dunks.”

LaVine seems very open to the idea of participating in the dunk contest next season. “I’d love to be in the dunk contest. I’ve got a lot of dunks people haven’t seen before. It’d be a privilege. It’s always been one of my dreams to win it.”

The situation in Minnesota is an intriguing one for LaVine, especially with the possibility of teaming up with Wiggins if he is included in a trade for Kevin Love later this month. If the ‘Wolves start another rebuild, LaVine and Wiggins will get a lot of minutes together.

In an interview with Tim Bontemps of the New York Post yesterday, LaVine sounded excited to team up with Wiggins:

Wiggins wasn’t the only player at Sunday’s photo shoot who could be impacted by a potential Love trade. Wiggins could soon be teammates with Timberwolves rookie Zach LaVine, another incredibly athletic 19-year-old who could give Minnesota an exciting pair of wing players to play alongside point guard Ricky Rubio.

“Yeah, I was telling him, ‘We might be teammates!’ ” LaVine said Sunday with a smile. “We worked out at the same spot in Santa Barbara [during the draft process], so I got cool with him. He’s a great player, and it would be very exciting.

“I just try to stay within myself. [Love is] one of the best players in our league right now, and he’s going to make the best decision for himself and his career, but I’m just gonna keep focusing on me and just trying to get my body ready and help this team win games.”

I asked LaVine about his expectations for next season. “I’m a very confident person. I want to come out there and try to be the best rookie. Whenever I go on the court I try to think of myself as the best player.”

Even though the Love trade rumors have dominated the summer, once the ‘Wolves move on from their franchise player, with players like LaVine, Robinson III and possibly Wiggins, they’re going to realize that there is indeed the potential of a very exciting future ahead.

What do you think?

Follow steven lebron on Twitter at @steven_lebron.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE