Zach LaVine is suddenly a full-time starter. The high-flying, 20-year-old Minnesota Timberwolves guard will start next to Ricky Rubio in the backcourt this season, Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell told SiriusXM NBA Radio.
"Absolutely," Mitchell said when asked if LaVine would have the opportunity to start at shooting guard in his second season. "I tell him all the time that it's not written in permanent ink, it's pencil. And I asked him, 'What's the difference between an ink pen and a pencil?' He said, 'Coach, a pencil has an eraser.' So I said, 'So it's your job until you lose it or give it away.'"
LaVine started 40 games as a rookie, too, but he was playing point guard in place of Rubio. Now that Rubio is healthy, the reigning dunk contest champ will take veteran Kevin Martin's spot. At least for now, as Mitchell said.
The move makes sense on a number of levels. For one, it should allow LaVine to develop chemistry with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, the other young cornerstones of the franchise. Also, it means he'll play more minutes with Rubio, who is by far the best passer on the team and can get the Wolves going in transition. Bringing Martin off the bench for some scoring punch seems wise, too.
"It's not necessarily about earning, it's about where you are as an organization and where you're trying to go," Mitchell said, via the Associated Press' Jon Krawczynski.
Minnesota is rebuilding, and LaVine is a major part of it, especially with the way he finished his first season. In his last 15 games, he averaged 19.6 points, 5.7 assists and 5.1 rebounds in 40.1 minutes per game, shooting 35.2 percent from 3-point range. The Wolves might as well see what he can do at his natural position.
The experiment begins on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET when Minnesota hosts the Oklahoma City Thunder.