This weekend, before the Los Angeles Lakers 120-119 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center, I caught up with Timberwolves young guns & UCLA alums Zach LaVine & Shabazz Muhammad.
We spoke about being back in SoCal, fitting into the Timberwolves system, life in the NBA & more.
Check it out:
I know you’re not from Southern California but you’re a West Coast guy… Does it mean anything in particular going up against this Lakers team and potentially matching up against Kobe Bryant in the back-court?
I’ve got a lot of family from here actually, from San Bernadino, so I got all my family here at the game. Its always good when they can watch you compete.
Were there any players that you may have looked up to or emulated your game after that you’ve been able to go against this season?
You try to get a little bit of everybody’s game and fit it into your own. My guy growing up has always been Kobe. Going against him tonight you know… You don’t want to add any fuel to that guy just want to go out there and play hard and try to get a win.
I know you guys are without Ricky Rubio, what are some of the things that the coaching staff has been asking you to work on?
All aspects of the game just try to be solid and limit mistakes and still play your game. Just try to improve every game and gain experience every game.
What has been the toughest moment during the first month of the season?
The losses are tough, trying to get back to the grind because everyone is a competitor so after a loss its always tough.
Have you had an Welcome to the NBA moment?
I don’t think so… But I do know its going to come eventually, I do know that. Hopefully not anytime soon!
What has been the biggest difference between college ball and pro ball?
The spacing and the speed of the game. The defensive rotations are quicker and the players are much more athletic. But the spacing has been the main thing.
What are some of the things you want to work on as the season progresses?
I want to work on everything you know, point guard skills, off the ball defensive skills and just gain experience and do the best I can every game.
By Jamieson Welsh.
Whats the difference between year one and year two?
Its a big difference last year I really didn’t get a chance to play or get out on the floor and this year I’m able to play really well and pleased with my game so far. I’m doing things that I have to do in order to stay on the floor.
In particular what are those things?
Mainly my scoring ability, rebounding and showing my athleticism. I lost a lot of weight this summer that helped me out a lot. Also dunking the ball… Dunking really gets me going as well as offensive rebounds and scoring the ball.
What were your goals coming into this season?
Definitely getting some time and playing well. Focusing on my body. I’m down to 215 right now I feel great and faster.
What does it mean to match-up against Kobe and is this your first time going against him?
Growing up, I was an LA guy. I grew up watching Kobe and Shaq. He’s one of my favorite players and its going to be an honor to go against him tonight.
What position do you view yourself as on the court?
I play the 2, 3 and sometimes the 4 because we have some guys that are out. Mainly the 2 and the 3, my foot speed has increased and that’s something Iv’e taken the initiative of.
On the offensive end what are some of the things you look forward to do on the court?
Definitely a bit of everything. Getting offensive rebounds gets me energized. I love going to the post, doing work in the post and working on hook shots and try to be physical with the opponent.
You mentioned that you’re an LA guy, and you went to high school in Vegas and college here in LA is there any added pressure playing out here?
Not really just a lot of family, just have to go out and try to give them a show. Its Staples Center with the bright lights on a Friday night and the Lakers are trying to give it all they got and we definitely need a win so were going to play as hard as we can and try to get a W.
How was your Thanksgiving?
It was great. I got to come out here. Everything broke right. I got to see my brother play also and see a lot of family out in Bellflower.
20 Seconds left you guys are down buy one and Kobe has the ball who is checking him? (Shabazz and Zach are sitting next to each other in the locker room)
It depends who is and you know with 20 seconds you know he has that eye and h’es going to try and get that bucket. That’s just something you just gotta try and play good defense and go with it.
The answer to the above question was neither… Andrew Wiggins was given the defensive assignment of Kobe Bryant late in the game. LaVine was guarding Nick Young & Shabazz was on the bench. Kobe hit a mid-range jumper over Wiggins to tie the game with 5 seconds remaining & then missed a game winning 3 on the buzzer, also over Wiggins.
Jamieson Welsh is a #BTHype US Correspondent & will be covering games across the West Coast for believethehypeNBA.com this season. Follow him on Twitter:@theejamieson