If you’re picking early League Pass favorites among your non-favorite NBA teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves have to be right near the top of the list. They added top overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns to a roster that’s already burgeoning with young talent, and interim coach Sam Mitchell is committed to developing it as his highest priority. With that in mind, Mitchell has tabbed Zach LaVine, not veteran Kevin Martin, as his starting shooting guard heading into 2015-16.
Mitchell announced the decision in an interview with SiriusXM Radio, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune‘s Jerry Zgoda says “[Mitchell] told LaVine that decision is written in pencil, not pen, and that the job is his to lose or give away.”
Even with the yada-yada caveats, it’s hard to imagine this decision not sticking. LaVine, though he may still be the rawest player on the T-Wolves, is a scorer more than a distributor, and Minnesota has the most non-scoring point guard this side of Rajon Rondo in Ricky Rubio. LaVine is longer, and actually shot serviceably from behind the arc last season (34 percent), so he could very much fill the shooting guard role. Unless this roster jumps way ahead of schedule, it’s not contending for a playoff berth this year, so Martin, reliable scorer though he may be, doesn’t have much to prove for this team.
Andrew Wiggins and Towns are the real blue chips on this team, but LaVine occupies a space similar to Gorgui Dieng in Minnesota — players who could eventually fill vital roles on a contender, but still need to develop with more playing time. With Towns, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Garnett on the roster, Dieng will have a tougher road to hoe this year to playing time, but it’s all there for LaVine if he can develop his game. And obviously, he’ll have every opportunity to prove that he’s a key cog of the Wolves’ young core, as well.