Published On: Sat, Aug 20th, 2016

Zach LaVine: 'Next step' in career is becoming an All-Star

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Zach LaVine is setting the bar high.

Entering his third season, the Minnesota Timberwolves guard is working toward a return to All-Star weekend – as something other than a Slam Dunk contestant.

“My ultimate goal is whenever I go on the court, I just want to be known as one of the better players,” he told Gerald Narciso of SI. “Everyone has short-term and long-term goals. And a short-term one for me is definitely getting to the All-Star Game in the next couple of years, and I definitely think that’s the next step in my career.

“I’ve been following that pathway pretty well so far, so I’m going to continue to put in time in the gym. I’ve always been taught that hard work doesn’t fail.”

The reigning two-time dunk contest champ recently received some high praise from Julius Erving, who said LaVine’s the best dunker since Vince Carter. The 21-year-old was humble in his response.

Whenever you have a legend like Dr. J talk about you in that light, regardless of whatever it is, it means you are on the right path and you are doing the right things,” he said. “I respect him for everything he’s done for the game and I appreciate what he said. I’m just going to continue to grow as a player and person.”

Perhaps aligning with LaVine’s personal growth is the fate of his team. He’s “very close” with two other pivotal members of Minnesota’s talented young core in Karl-Anthony Towns – who visited him at his camp in Seattle this summer – and Andrew Wiggins.

“We’ve become closer as we’ve gotten to know each other. We hope to be together for a long time and we’re trying to rebuild the Timberwolves franchise. The better we get, we know the better the organization gets, so we try to set high goals,” LaVine explained.

“We talk all the time about our chemistry and different things we need to work on. We are making sure everybody is in the gym working hard. … Obviously we’re not going to go 82-0, but we have to compete every night and the wins and losses are going to take care of themselves.”

Related: Wiggins, Towns working to form formidable 1-2 punch

The T-Wolves finished with 29 wins last season – fifth worst in the league – extending the longest current playoff drought to 12 years. Their goal for 2016-17 is to finally put that to rest.

“That’s definitely what we’re going for. We’re not trying to have a long summer next year,” LaVine added.

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