Zachary LaVine (born March 10, 1995) is an American professional basketball player for the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was selected in the first round of the 2014 NBA draft with the 13th overall pick by the Timberwolves. He is a two-time Slam Dunk Contest champion.
LaVine grew up in Washington, where he was honored as the state's top high school player. He played college basketball for the UCLA Bruins. After one season at UCLA, he entered the NBA after being named one of the top freshmen in the Pac-12 Conference. As a rookie with Minnesota, he won the league's Slam Dunk Contest, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. In 2016, he became the fourth NBA player to ever win consecutive dunk contests.
LaVine was born in Renton, Washington, to athletic parents. His father, Paul, played American football professionally in the United States Football League (USFL) and National Football League (NFL), and his mother, CJ, was a softball player. Around the age of five, LaVine developed an interest in basketball after watching Michael Jordan in Space Jam. He later became a fan of Kobe Bryant, and modeled his game after his childhood idol.
LaVine practiced playing in the family backyard, where his father had him repeatedly emulate the NBA's Three-Point Shootout. He attended Bothell High School in Bothell, Washington. Playing point guard, he was their primary ball handler. By his junior year, he had grown to 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m), and he would practice dunking for hours in his backyard after his shooting routine would end.
As a senior, he averaged 28.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game, and was named the 2013 Associated Press Washington state player of the year and Washington Mr. Basketball. He was also recognized nationally as a first-team Parade All-American. He played in the Ballislife All-American Game, and won the event's slam dunk contest. Considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, LaVine was listed as the No. 12 shooting guard and the No. 44 player in the nation in 2013.
On June 20, 2012, LaVine verbally committed to attending UCLA and playing for coach Ben Howland for the 2013 season. After Howland was fired nine months later, LaVine considered staying in-state and attending the University of Washington instead. However, he decided to remain with UCLA and their new coach, Steve Alford; LaVine had inherited an affection for UCLA from his father, who grew up a fan of Bruins basketball while growing up in nearby San Bernardino, California.
After a strong start to 2013–14 as the team's sixth man, featuring an impressive display of outside shooting and explosive dunks, the former point guard LaVine evoked memories of former Bruin Russell Westbrook's UCLA beginnings. NBA draft pundits began ranking LaVine high on their projections for the 2014 NBA draft if he declared himself eligible. ESPN.com draft expert Chad Ford attributed LaVine's appeal to the Westbrook comparisons. At one point, Ford listed him as the 10th overall pick, while NBADraft.net ranked him fifth. During the season, LaVine typically entered the game with coach Alford's freshman son, Bryce Alford, who usually handled the ball, while starter Kyle Anderson was the team's main facilitator. During a six-game span beginning on January 26, 2014, he endured a shooting slump where he made just 7 of 36 shots from the field. He averaged 9.4 points per game during the season, fourth best on the team, and his 48 three-point field goals made were the second most by a freshman in the school's history. However, LaVine did not reach double-figures in scoring in 14 of the final 18 games, and totaled just 11 points and was 0 for 8 on three-point attempts in the final five games. Despite his late-season struggles, he was voted to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team, and he was named with Bryce Alford as the team's most valuable freshmen.
On April 16, 2014, he declared for the NBA draft, forgoing his final three years of college eligibility.
Minnesota Timberwolves (2014–2017)
On June 26, 2014, LaVine was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. The Timberwolves drafted him more for his long-term potential than for immediate returns. He signed his rookie scale contract with the team on July 8, 2014. During the offseason, he won the slam dunk contest at the Seattle Basketball Pro-Am League while using many of the same moves he used to capture the Ballislife contest. Over the first five games of the 2014–15 season, LaVine played a total of 12 minutes. When an ankle injury sidelined starter Ricky Rubio indefinitely, LaVine became the starting point guard over veteran Mo Williams. After being switched back to the bench by coach Flip Saunders in favor of Williams, LaVine scored 28 points in a 120–119 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on November 28. He became only the second teenager ever in the NBA to have at least 25 points and five assists as a reserve. LaVine moved back into the starting lineup after back spasms sidelined Williams. On December 6 against the San Antonio Spurs, LaVine had 22 points and 10 assists for his first double-double. He became just the fourth teenage player to record a 20-point, 10-assist game in the NBA.
Rubio returned in February 2015, resulting in a dip in playing time for LaVine. However, Williams was also traded that month to open up more opportunities. Again incorporating moves from the Ballislife contest two years earlier, LaVine won the Slam Dunk Contest during the 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend. He became the youngest champion since an 18-year-old Kobe Bryant in 1997. LaVine became a crowd favorite after his first dunk, which he performed while wearing Jordan's No. 23 jersey from the movie Space Jam. With a perfect 50 on each of his first two dunks, he was the first player since Dwight Howard in 2009 with a perfect score on multiple dunks. Yahoo! Sports hailed him as "the most electrifying performer of All-Star Saturday Night... and, if we're being honest, in quite a number of years." LaVine also participated in the Rising Stars Challenge that weekend. On April 11, LaVine had a season-best game with 37 points and nine rebounds in a loss to the Golden State Warriors. For the season, LaVine played in 77 games, starting in 40, and averaged 10.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists, while shooting 42.2 percent overall and 34.1 percent on three-pointers. He was subsequently named to the All-NBA Rookie Second Team.
On October 21, 2015, the Timberwolves exercised their third-year team option on LaVine's rookie scale contract, extending the contract through the 2016–17 season. With Ricky Rubio sidelined in early November, LaVine took over the starting point guard role and took advantage of the increased minutes. On November 13, he scored a season-high 26 points in a loss to the Indiana Pacers. He later topped that mark on December 13, scoring 28 points in a loss to the Phoenix Suns. In a 114–107 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 25, 2016, LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins became the first trio of NBA teammates under age 21 to score at least 20 points in the same game. On January 27, he scored 35 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder, just two points shy of his career high. His 35 points set a franchise record for a bench player and set the highest scoring total by a non-starter in the league in 2015–16. He tied Minnesota single-game records with a shooting percentage of 82.4 (14 for 17) and most two-point field goals without a miss (9 for 9). During the 2016 All-Star Weekend, LaVine scored 30 points for Team USA in the Rising Stars Challenge to capture MVP honors. He also became the fourth player ever to win consecutive Slam Dunk Contests. His battle with Aaron Gordon through two tie-breakers in the final round drew comparisons to the showdown between Jordan and Dominique Wilkins in 1988.
On October 24, 2016, the Timberwolves exercised their fourth-year team option on LaVine's rookie scale contract, extending the contract through the 2017–18 season. On November 9, he tied his career high with 37 points in a 123–107 win over the Orlando Magic. On December 23, he scored a career-high 40 points and tied a career best with seven three-pointers in a 109–105 loss against the Sacramento Kings. He had 19 points in the second quarter, marking his second-highest quarter of his career; he previously had 20 in the fourth against Golden State on April 11, 2015. On February 4, 2017, LaVine was ruled out for the rest of the season after an MRI revealed he had a torn ACL in his left knee. Ten days later, he underwent successful surgery to reconstruct the knee.
Chicago Bulls (2017–present)
On June 22, 2017, LaVine was traded, along with Kris Dunn and the rights to Lauri Markkanen (the 7th pick in the 2017 NBA draft), to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Jimmy Butler and the rights to Justin Patton (the 16th pick in the 2017 NBA draft).
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
Off the court