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Report: UCLA’s Zach LaVine to declare for NBA Draft

Mar 28, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT

Stanford v UCLA Getty Images

UCLA’s Zach LaVine is what scouts could call “bouncy.”

The 6’5” swingman has real hops and athleticism, some solid handles and he shot 38.4 percent from three this season — and he is taking his game to the NBA next season, his father told the Los Angeles Daily News. That came after LaVine’s 2-of-7 for 5 points night against Florida in the Sweet 16.

He could well be a trio of UCLA players leaving for the draft — Kyle Anderson has already all but declared for the draft as well. Personally if I could take one guy off the UCLA team for my NBA team it would be Jordan Adams, the guy is a natural scorer, but he has not yet made an announcement.

LaVine has fantastic athleticism but his game is not NBA ready right now, he’s a guy you’ve got to develop. He clearly feels stuck in the rotation in Westwood, like he’s not getting his chance. His handles are fine for college but need work at the next level, as does his shot and defense. The big question is can he convince an NBA GM that his potential is worth a first round pick — which means a couple years of guaranteed money and investment. If he falls to the second round there is no guaranteed money or roster spot.

LaVine is considered a bubble first rounder. His father told the Daily News they were told he would go around 22, the traditionally pretty accurate DraftExpress had LaVine at 30, the last pick in the first round.

PBT’s Draft expert, Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com, is not a fan of this move.

To me, LaVine is exactly the kind of player who should stay in school. I believe you should only come out early if you are a lock first-round pick — UCLA’s Anderson is that, and while I’m not as sold as some on his NBA fit and development he will develop faster in the NBA than with another year in college. He made the right move.

LaVine is going to have to kill it at the NBA Draft Combine and in team workouts to get a team to use a first round pick on him. If not he will get taken in the second round but that comes with no guarantees. He could end up in the D-League next season (which is a very good place to develop as well, if that’s all LaVine wants) or as the non-guaranteed guy on the end of the NBA bench that starts the season with the team but gets cut loose in December when the team moves to bring in a veteran. Not sure that’s the dream, if he went back college for a season he could be a solid first rounder next year.

But he made his call and those around the UCLA program seemed to expect it. LaVine is going pro.

  1. phillyfan11 - Mar 28, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    He definitely should have stayed for his sophomore season.

  2. southsidegroovin281 - Mar 28, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    This dude is an athlete. But he has nothing to offer a NBA team right away other than garbage mins and a spectacular dunk here or there. Stay in school.

  3. aboogy123456 - Mar 28, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    I haven’t seen this kid play, but if he is only an athlete and nothing else, then it would make sense for him to go to the NBA and make some money. If he gets injured next season in college and loses a bit of athleticism, then he will have nothing else to fall back on and may never get drafted.

  4. fotydaze - Mar 28, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    And so the cycle of players coming out before they have anything to offer continues….please contact shabazzzzz

    • bballhistorian - Mar 28, 2014 at 4:24 PM

      Speaking of Shabazz…check out this latest article on his father getting 3 yrs jail time. Could affect UCLA going while Shabazz played:

      http://www.bruinsnation.com/2014/3/26/5551520/holmes-loan-puts-conference-championship-in-jeopardy

  5. fotydaze - Mar 28, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    What it’s so bad about reviving a FREE quality education while you develop your game? Unless you’re afraid the fact you’re not very good may surface and cost you your shot…but if that’s the case you shouldn’t be there anyway

  6. unxpexted1 - Mar 28, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    There comes a point where the NBA has to stop drafted these kids, so that making the decision to come will be much more difficult. Cause if he doesn’t get drafted he’s a$$’d out. NBA teams have to stop drafting fringe talent, maybe that will cause kids to wait until they know they are first round locks or seniors.

  7. emdawt - Mar 28, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    He’s a lottery pick. Russell Westbrook- lite.

    Excellent pick for the Lakers if they don’t grab Wiggins or Exum.

  8. rickeye9 - Mar 28, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    Why stay in school? if he’s going to be in the NBA next year, what’s the point? and if he gets drafted later in the first round, he’s just going to be on a good team

    • genericcommenter - Mar 28, 2014 at 11:42 PM

      If he gets drafted in the 2nd round he has a very good chance of being cut, going to Europe for 1/4-1/10th the money or D league for 3% of the money. So many 2nd rounders go to Europe for seasoning and are never heard from again or they get a look the next Summer league and/or camp and get cut or traded as a throw-in and then cut. Then they endup as overseas journeymen (which can still be a nice career at the upper levels, but let’s be real. It’s a lot less stable and usually magnitudes less lucrative than a 1st Rd pick who sticks in the NBA).

  9. jkaflagg - Mar 28, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    UCLA fans are insanely angry because they thought Lavine lost playing time to Bryce Alford; but the Bruins were only 8 deep and Lavine got about as much time as he deserved….he’s a great athlete, but the NBA is fill of great athletes, and Lavine’s failure to block out a guy at the free throw line (a fundamental most guys learn before high school) last night kind of says it all as far as where his game is….

    Lavine’s game started to level off about the time the first NBA lottery pick story appeared; and the fact that he’s jumping into the draft immediately – as opposed transferring and sitting out a year to work on his game at another school – makes it appear that he was all about the money as opposed to improving his game. Hopefully he’ll get lucky and go to a team that actually knows how to develop talent, but there are very few of those in the NBA, where 70% of the league has no chance at all to ever win a title and the teams exist simply to collect TV money. And if no one falls in love with Lavine and he drops to the 2nd round, there’s no guaranteed money and no commitment for development time – another Tyler Honeycutt scenario.

    So good luck, Zach…..hopefully it will all fall in place for you, and you’ll be the next Trevor Ariza rather than the next Honeycutt.

  10. saint1997 - Mar 28, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    Russell Westbrook comparison is so awful, he’s a 6’5 2-guard that had a completely different playing style. I like more of a Terrence Ross comparison

    • dinofrank60 - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:34 PM

      The reason the Westbrook comparison might work is that… on second thought I can’t make that work. But the Levines think they can make it work.

      At least Russ played in his soph season and stood up against Memphis in the semis.

  11. campcouch - Mar 29, 2014 at 3:09 AM

    Going 2-7 for 5 points in your last college game screams draft to me.

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