Raised in a family with three other siblings, Timberwolves rookie guard Zach LaVine was asked recently whether he has any brothers.
“Nah,” he replied, shaking his head with a hint of resignation in his voice, “I’ve got three sisters, man.”
That is, unless you count Los Angeles Clippers star Jamal Crawford in some sort of way.
Fifteen years older, Crawford says LaVine is “like a little brother” and has forged a relationship with a rookie these past five years because both come from the Seattle area and because years ago Crawford saw something in a skinny, bouncy high school sophomore that led him to believe one day LaVine would be a peer.
“He had that ‘It’ factor,” Crawford said.
Crawford is still not sure how to quantify it, but he said he knew that kid from the northern suburb of Bothell — the other end of the Seattle area from Crawford’s Rainier Beach area — had whatever It is.
“Guys at that age, you can see they can make it to the NBA,” Crawford said. “You could see it in his shooting, his ballhandling, his lift, his athleticism. He has that quick twitch. He’s very, very quick and he can shoot it. That’s trouble because that’s when you have to get up on him and when you do that, he uses his athleticism to get by you. He’s a player for sure.”
So through shared acquaintances, the two players from different eras of Seattle basketball became friends and occasional summertime workout partners, beginning a relationship that LaVine describes as part mentor, part familial.
“He’s connected to everybody in the city,” LaVine said. “We just crossed paths. Since then, he’s been helping me. He’s a really cool dude. It’s great to have a friend like that. I’ll be texting and calling him about everything.”
When LaVine went from scoring a career-high 28 points in Los Angeles against the Lakers to a scoreless game at Portland just two nights later, Crawford was on the phone late last Sunday night talking to LaVine about life in the NBA as a rookie who doesn’t know the things Crawford has come to learn in 15 pro seasons. They chatted in person when the Wolves played the Clippers on Monday in Los Angeles.
“He’s such a good kid,” Crawford said. “You just want him to do well. I’m sure he will. Some games you have big games, some games you don’t play as much. That’s just part of growth and development. That’s life in the NBA, man. As a rookie, shoot, I don’t think I scored 20 points in a game. So he’s ahead of me for sure.”
In Crawford’s rookie year with Chicago long ago, he scored 17 points in a game four times. Six seasons later, he scored 52 points for New York — the second of six NBA teams for which the two-time Sixth Man of the Year has played — in a game.
“I remember when he dropped 55 [points] with the Knicks,” said LaVine, his memory just a bit off. “I’ve been watching him for a while.”
He has watched enough to incorporate parts of Crawford’s game. Before last summer’s draft, LaVine said he modeled his game after three players: Chicago’s Derrick Rose, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and Crawford.
“Probably him the most,” LaVine said of Crawford. “I feel like we have a little bit of the same shake. I think that’s like being bred in Seattle.”
Crawford calls LaVine’s chosen trifecta a “pretty good combination.”
“I could see a little bit of everybody in his game,” Crawford said. “He’ll take off. I have no doubt he will. He’s a gym rat. He wants to get better. He listens. He’s young, and he has game. He jumps out of the gym, like literally. It looks like he’s flying.”
NBA Short Takes
Loveless Warriors doing swell with who they have
The best trade sometimes is the one …
Well, maybe we have our answer to the question whether Golden State will regret passing on the chance to acquire Kevin Love from the Timberwolves in a trade.
The early precincts have reported. The Warriors started the season 16-2 — best in the NBA — with both an offense and a defense humming along and the assurance that keeping guard Klay Thompson was the right thing to do.
They entered the weekend with an 11-game winning streak built upon the offense of the “Splash Brothers” — Thompson and Stephen Curry — and a defense built around long and athletic wings.
They’re headed to Target Center on Monday with the biggest question about them being whether they’ve morphed from contenders to title favorites.
After his team crushed the Pelicans 112-85 Thursday night at home, first-year Golden State coach Steve Kerr told reporters, “That’s the best game we’ve played in a long time.”
And while you’re at it, stay off his lawn!
The Wolves just got consecutive looks at two of the best practitioners — James Harden of Houston and originator Manu Ginobili of San Antonio — of the Eurostep move, a change of direction involving long strides and pushing the ball forward to split two defenders.
Just don’t call old-school Rockets coach Kevin McHale a fan of the Eurostep.
“I would be a bad referee, I think he travels,” McHale said of his own player.
“All of those guys. Ever since Manu started doing it, I was like, ‘That’s got to be a travel.’
“But it’s not when you slow it down. A lot of guys are doing it now. I’m glad I’m not an official, I’d call traveling every time. But James really knows how to do it. He’s really smart. Maybe you’ve got to be a lefty. James and Manu, they really know what they’re doing.”
Wolves’ Week Ahead
Monday: 7 p.m. vs. Golden State, FSN
Wednesday: 7 p.m. vs. Portland, FSN
Friday: 7 p.m. vs. Oklahoma City, FSN
Player to watch:
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
Following not far behind teammate Russell Westbrook, he’s back from injury — a fractured foot, in his case — but does the Thunder have enough time in this still-young season to catch up from a 5-13 start?
« If I lose any weight, I’ll be gone.»
Wolves veteran Corey Brewer, who hasn’t changed to a healthier diet in an effort to shed pounds