2014 NBA Draft

Wolves select Zach Lavine at 13

A quick Google search for Zach Lavine reveals a few things. He is 19 years old and from Seattle Washington. He went to UCLA. He is really, really good at dunking. It will also very soon reveal just how thrilled the young man is to be playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Just a word of advice, kid: If you have just been drafted and there are TV cameras staring right at you and you are trying at all to impress your new employer and fans, I recommend not bowing your head on the table in utter heartbreak and then repeatedly mouthing the words, “f___k, man” like your girlfriend just broke up with you (and also killed your dog). And anyway, cheer up dude, the cross-country skiing is great out here. (Also you might get to play with Kevin Love for part of training camp.)

As far as the Wolves go, this seems to me to be an example of the Wolves going with the player they considered to be the best available and not making much of an attempt to move the needle in the short term. If there were any thoughts that the team were trying to impress Love enough with an instant rebuild to entice him to stay (I know, I know), this probably puts those to rest. Here is Zach Lavine’s Draft Express video:

And here is some more footage of him dunking, if that makes you feel any better:

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43 thoughts on “Wolves select Zach Lavine at 13

  1. Can we get Silver to force Taylor out on grounds of fan abuse? What is with this team? How is it that the collective wisdom of local blogs could consistently predict positive and negative outcomes of Wolves’ drafts for at least five years running now, not to mention players available who would’ve been better choices (Paul George, Steph Curry, and Ty Lawson immediately come to mind, not to mention DMC or Greg Monroe). They accurately predicted the failures of Jonny Flynn, Wes Johnson, Darko, the risk of drafting what’s his name at 2, the risk of Shabazz, and now LaVine?! A player with no NBA skill, no plan for development, I mean, what is he going to do? What is he going to do that you can’t already find in the D league? What skills – what track record – does he have that suggest that he’s a better prospect than a D leaguer? At least Shabazz can score.

  2. I like LaVine as a prospect, but I am puzzled by how this reflects a coherent strategy. He’s super-raw which (1) guarantees Love is gone, (2) signals to other teams Love has to be moved, which weakens their bargaining position this summer, and (3) doesn’t seem to really fit with Flip’s desire to replace Love with veterans like David Lee so that the Wolves are still semi-competitive without Love this coming season. I get they took a guy with upside and maybe they actually want to be bad in order not to lose the 2015 pick to the Suns, but if that’s the plan, Flip certainly has never suggested that is the plan. And frankly if they’re terrible next year, who is to say Rubio won’t ask out? He’s a very competitive guy and he’s not going to want to spend another 2-3 years minimum in rebuild mode.

  3. Can’t pass, defend, chucks up bad shots. Most of his offense comes from transition. Sounds like exactly what we need!

    Terrible country club pick from Flip.

  4. I have to believe this was a pick for a future trade or this was just another dumb pick in a long line of dumb picks.

    Prediction: the kid is wearing a new hat by the weekend.

    Does anyone think the Denver picks looked a lot like our picks for Love?

  5. It is really hard to say anything about this pick until they get done with revamping their roster. I always wondered how Rubio would play on a run and gun team with a bunch of athletes. Who knows maybe we will get the chance to see.

  6. He is a SG, not a PG. He had a respectable 3-point % and is an incredible athlete. Polished he is not, but if he puts in the work he could be a solid two way player. He needs to add strength and tighten up his decision making, but he is never going to be a primary ball handler anyway. He needs to put in work to make it happen though. His defense is definitely not good enough right now but he is athletic enough to cover any guard.

  7. I don’t like the pick. Having more athletes is necessary for this team (something that can’t be emphasized enough), but there were ones who were productive in college (I really liked KJ McDaniels, and Adreian Payne and Clint Capela are also very good athletes). Advanced stats aren’t the end-all, be-all when it comes to predicting success, but the video doesn’t help his case, either.

    With that said, I still want him to succeed. It’s like those people my friends dated who I thought were questionable: I disagreed with their choice, but I didn’t have the amount of information they had, I wasn’t going to let it affect the way I dealt with them, and I wasn’t going to root against them if it was working.

    A few other stray thoughts:
    – You can’t just tag something with “country club” just because you heard someone come up with the phrase. The “country club” move in this draft was Harris or Payne. Drafting a UCLA player because they have 3 already is meaningless, since Love is leaving and he and Luc are the only ones who played together (for one season). LaVine also had a different coach.
    – I don’t care about his reaction on TV. Unless it affects his work ethic, he’s here for a minimum of 7-8 years if the team wants him to be. The last guy who “reacted negatively” to being drafted by the Wolves is one of the team’s most-popular players (or did we forget about the ’09 draft).
    – Rubio has little power over the next 3-4 seasons of his career. Demanding a trade doesn’t work in the NBA unless the player has the leverage of leaving as an unrestricted free agent. Rubio couldn’t become one unless he signed the qualifying offer next summer, and every agent would push a guy whose already undergone ACL surgery to get a long-term deal as a RFA before his 5th season.
    – Are we really going to compare Taylor to Donald Sterling? I don’t like his decisions any more than the next guy, but please.

  8. ha! I just remember reading the comment sections on articles about LaVine declaring for the draft and it was full of UCLA fans talking about how not ready he is for the NBA. another wasted lottery draft pick.

  9. Of course Rubio is one of the most popular players the Wolves drafted on the current roster, every other player drafted by the Wolves since Rubio is no longer with the team. Who is fighting with Rubio for the prestigious title of “one of the most popular Wolves players”? The wife-beater? The emo Russian with the fox fur vest? The franchise player who has his bags packed? The puu puu platter of swingmen who can’t shoot or handle?

  10. I don’t know if my comments are even showing (says they are being moderated), but if Rubio is being torched, my only answer is to point out that he is the only NBA starter on our team I say (Love will be traded for another presumably)… Cases to be made for Pekovic and Deing. He has never played with a scoring wing in his life and what dome do, pick his backup 3 years out (best case). :sigh: – I’ll fix your squad for $40k/yr., Taylor! Stop passing on talent. Russ Smith at least? Let’s get Ricky a mentor, not a protege. Peace n grease.

  11. I think he might be a good pick, a super quick transition player who can score on the drive. He shot and scored decently considering he had limited minutes, and considering the wolves have no bench guards worth anything, wolves really did need a guard, unless they want to rely on JJ as a combo guard again.

    If Love stays, his half court chest passes to LaVine could create some highlight films and scoring, rather than only really having Brewer get free for them.

    Im hoping the wolves trade Pek for some solid replacements and let Dieng/Turiaf start. Pek is great, but I think the wolves can get more value in other spots for his salary, and Love is better next to a shot blocker.

  12. He certainly could be used for a trade. It not, The kid needs to realize he will have an opportunity to get a lot of playing time and not just develop on the bench. Your still going to make a lot of money playing a game…playing a game!! Get over it and make the most of your opportunity.

  13. This is total country club – it’s a long shot pick based off of the eyeball test. It’s like drafting Wiggins, except with far fewer actual demonstrable skills. The country club part is that Flip is back, surrounded by his old crew, and selecting his former college roomate’s (Bill Duffy) client again. This team is where the Twins were at 4-5 years ago: stubbornly stuck on their faith in identifying talent based on subjective assessment and (we will see) hubristic confidence in their ability to coach em up. It’s a franchise death sentence that takes a whole lot of losing to bring about change.

    The part that bugs me is the unwillingness to even entertain the challenge to subjective assessments advanced stats offers. It’s why most of the good teams are good and why bad teams are bad. Flip believes what he believes, and once upon a time he was a very successful coach in this league. But the game has changed, rules have changed, and I don’t think Flip has. He’ll produce a long two, jump shooting team because that’s what he does.

  14. First, I just want to say that reading these comments is incredibly disheartening, because obviously the fan base for the Wolves has become much too jaded (sounds a lot like a Cleveland Browns forum). And I get the pain, I’ve been a Wolves fan since the late 80s when I was old enough to watch and understand basketball, but Flip was the most successful person in the front office in our team’s history, so let’s cut him a little break.

    As for the Lavine pick, it is a bit confusing to some extent. Yet, he’s a good fit into what we don’t have right now, even if his playing time next year will be limited due to his underdeveloped game. He’s an athletic combo guard with high energy. Remember also, that his story is VERY similar to a certain person on the Wolves who at least some people are still hoping stays with the Wolves (i.e. growing up in the Pacific Northwest and playing at UCLA). Whether this means that Lavine would be part of a trade offer or a hope (like Napier in Miami) that having someone like Love would convince him to stay, I don’t know.

    I understand the frustration, as I have it too, of what the Wolves have been through over the past decade, but the reality is that the Wolves were a few close game close outs and one more decent rotation player away from winning over 50 games, which would have put them solidly into the Western Conference second tier of playoff teams, moving in the direction Love wanted.

  15. So…we’re talking about a less experienced Wes Johnson here, right?

    I don’t understand how Flip can be apparently so concerned with “winning now” that he’s not interested in flipping Love for players/picks that aren’t ready…and then draft a raw prospect. Unless there’s a move coming, that makes no sense. Which is not surprising.

  16. I know I’m going to hear about how there’s a new Sheriff in town and he’s yet to prove himself. Ok. But this pick seems kind of sad. It’s not going to excite the populous. This guy isn’t a game changer in a draft loaded with guys who could probably be more immediate assets. This guy might spend some time in the D league with Bazz. Plus he seems genuinely excited to be drafted by an organization famous for spotting talent and developing that talent. It’s gonna be a great year.

    Here’s a summary of Twolves first round picks back to 1995 organized by Grantland’s groupings as a note Ndudi Ebi (2003) and Paul Grant (1997) don’t even get mentioned probably because they never really saw action in the NBA. Since it doesn’t go back that far I’ll add Pooh Richardson and Felton Spenser, who only saw court time because the Wolves were horrible:

    The article is here:

    In the top 10 of their draft year
    8. Ricky Rubio (5)7 for 4. Ty Lawson (18)** the numbers are the ranking ** means potential “All Star”
    5. Brandon Roy (6)* Traded to Portland for lottery rotation guy Randy Foye
    11. Wally Szczerbiak (6)*
    4. Ray Allen (5)*** Traded to Portland (seems to happen a lot)
    1. Kevin Garnett (5)**** (with Love the only legitimate “All Time Great” to ever see court time with the Wolves, Traded to the Celtics for Al Jefferson, and garbage)

    Lottery Whiffs:
    Shabazz Muhammad (14)
    Derrick Williams (2)
    Wesley Johnson (4)
    Jonny Flynn (6)
    Rashad McCants (14)
    Sebastian Telfair (13)
    William Avery (14)
    Rotation Guys:
    Gorgui Dieng (21)
    Rasho Nesterovic (17)

    Lottery Rotation Guys:
    O.J. Mayo (3) Traded for 2. Kevin Love (5)*** (nicely done! Thanks to this draft pick now gone for pennies on the dollar)

  17. It was all there with Payne from Michigan but no but no ,,,These guys Gardenhire- Flip they are so typical Will tell you about being responsible but have no accountability themselves…a loser is as a loser does…and on top of it all Levine does not even want to be here…train and trade…lose lose lose!!!!!!!!

  18. I’m not too phased about the “f*** man” mutterings. There were reports almost three days back rumoring that the Wolves had promised LaVine to take him if he was left at 13. Usually these promises don’t get made unless there is at least some mutual love going on.

    I also agree that signals that we’re already looking at going into rebuilding mode since I can’t see this young guy making a major impact till 2016 or 2017. Say what you want about Harris or Payne being country-club picks, they would’ve been able to crack the rotation this year.

  19. It seems like we always draft people based on what they COULD possibly become someday instead of getting someone we know is good at a specific skill set. That is why most of our picks have been whiffs. We never pick a guy because he’s a solid defender or he can shoot the three or whatever to fill an actual need that we have. Maybe it’s because we’re small market so we need to gamble on someone becoming an all-around star (KG/K-Love.) It just rarely works out that way. Then we expect them to do everything really well instead of focusing on one or two things that will help the team. I don’t feel strongly either way about this pick but based on past history it is hard to believe LaVine will somehow turn into a star and make good on his “high ceiling.” I hope he does though…

  20. Assuming Lavine meant his “f*** me” moment to mean he hated being drafted by the Timberwolves, what does that say more about? The person being drafted or the state of the team in the eyes of even young hopefuls of an NBA career? I really hope it’s just a random thing but if that’s the case it’s a Freudian slip nonetheless…smh. Oh well, I’m hoping that his pick is an eventual piece to be moved to either Chicago or Denver since Payne was still on the board when we were picking…fingers crossed

  21. Uglyfunk. Yeah his reaction sure wasn’t mature. But he knows, what we should all know, he won’t have a quality free agent to run with ever. I wonder if he’ll sign, and if he does, how long he’ll stay. Maybe being on the receiving end of some passes from Ricky will change his tune. Or perhaps watching JJ run around for the entire shot clock will confirm his worst feelings about the franchise.

    Bleacher report thinks the Wolves did well in this draft. I am not convinced. I for one am getting tired of the four year cycle of: from we have great pieces, we’re just one piece away, to oh wait, our quality players want to win now, to our quality players are opting out we need to trade while they still have value, to we have great pieces….

    The draft “strategies” if they exist have not been helping see Bazz and DWill. The free agent acquisitions look great on the surface but vaporize when deeply analyzed see Kevin Martin and JJ. I guess we can all point at Dieng and hang our hats on that, but that isn’t much to build around.

    I can see our formerly joyful point guard getting pretty discouraged and that to me is the saddest thing of all. Soon will be asking Ricky to change his face back to the smiling guy he was two years ago. I wish him the best.

  22. a decade of terrible defense. so flip drafts a guy that can’t play defense. you just can’t make this stuff up. please just contract this team already.

  23. Zach Lavine looks to me like the second coming of Gerald Green. Another very young, talented, athletic kid. Like Green, it will take several years for him to develop to a rotation player, if he can last that long. Will require much patience… be honest, how many of you thought Green would ever be a valuable player on a good team? Four years into his career, Green was out of the league completely.

    Flip makes a good case for why he took Lavine. I’m going to trust Flip and be patient. Flip made it clear that character and attitude were important in who the Wolves drafted, so he clearly likes Lavine. Going for the (potential) home run hitter is not a bad idea for the Wolves.

  24. I’m all for getting “athletic” guys but I’d rather get a “fundamental” guy at this point with a specific skill. Teams like the Spurs are most times mundane to watch but hey, they win with fundamental ball. Guys with their best traits being “athletic” haven’t panned out in a Wolves uniform (thinking of Anthony Randolph, D Will, to an extent Isaiah Rider and Wesley Johnson, etc). I hope Lavine pans out to be a solid rotation guy if the Wolves keep him. The only “athletic” guys to turn into a solid starter/All-Star are Blake Griffin and Vince Carter (I’m sure there are other examples of this but point being they are not Timberwolves). Lavine at least looks good on youtube lol

  25. “This is total country club – it’s a long shot pick based off of the eyeball test.” No, it isn’t. You can’t just state a decision you disagree with is “country club.” The “country club” decision would’ve been taking a key player from a successful college team (McCants, Foye, Brewer). Labeling everything as “country club” is associating with an ideology under the guise of sounding intelligent.

    It’s so great that so many on here are certain about a 19-year-old and what type of NBA player he’ll become. We all know what this is: gambling that a raw young player’s elite athleticism can be honed into a very good NBA player because they weren’t in a position to get a surefire very good NBA player. It’s risky, but at what point does not thinking it will work morph into rooting that he’ll fail? I don’t think it will work, but at least I hope it does, and I’m not sure the same could be said for some of the posters here.

    “He won’t have a quality free agent to run with ever.” Wait, does anyone on here actually think the way to build a good team in MN is through free agency? Most franchises don’t have that option. They have to figure out a way to find good young talent and hope it can grow together; the fact that they haven’t is the main reason Love will be gone by Oct. 2015. They haven’t proven able to do that consistently enough yet, but complaining that they can’t win because they won’t get ‘Melo or LeBron is so silly and shows such a lack of knowledge of how the good franchises do business.

    1. I think that, to biggity’s point, the issue is not whether or not its possible to develop players with athletic potential–I think Gorgui is a nice example of a player who was coached up during his rookie season (though he was much more of a finished product defensively than Lavine is at anything). Its also no so much about filling a need vs. taking the bpa. The issue is how you judge who has the potential to be the best player on the board. And, so far, past performance–that is to say, using stats to analyze a players performance and project that into the future–is the only really consistent way of doing that. The fact that they took Shabazz Mohammed last year and had Lavine 7th on their board is evidence that Flip is not really on board with that idea. It’s not that it’s impossible to develop raw players or that there’s no such thing as upside or that the eye test is useless; it’s that if you consistently base your drafting decisions on those things you will do much less well over time than if you used analytics (or, better yet, used analytics in conjunction with those other things). The draft is always going to be a bit of a crapshoot, and it’s impossible to hit home runs every time. But there are ways of reducing the randomness a bit. The Spurs have proved that.

  26. Again, I think at Flip’s press conference he gave a good explanation for why he likes Lavine. And it’s not simply that he’s “athletic.” He can shoot from range, he has a good handle (Johnson did not), he’s quick laterally and has shown that he can stay in front of his guy in isos, he’s a gym rat. Certainly didn’t pick him just because he’s athletic.

    Here’s a quick parlor game for y’all. Flip says the Wolves had Lavine 7th on their draft board. Who would you guess were the 6 ahead of him? Might be a good insight into why he likes Lavine. I’d say that 5 of the 6 would have to be: Wiggins, Parker, Embiid, Exum, and Vonleh. I’m guessing that his public interest in Stauskas and McDermott was smoke-screen. What do you think?

  27. So what do the stats say about Zach Lavine? I think Shabazz is going to be a rotation player this year. He has a real good work ethic by all accounts. He just needs to get his body in better shape so he can defend better and improve his 3 point shot a little and he is there. Dieng already is a rotation player. I would be less down on Flip from the draft standpoint and more down on his free agent signings.

    1. Well Kevin Pelton’s WARP rating projected Lavine as the 22nd best player in the draft. As far as Shabazz, I’m not seeing much. I loved his energy and his willingness to rebound but he basically has one offensive skill–that right left-box, right shoulder turn jump hook–and teams are going to sit on that if he ever becomes a rotation player. He just has so, so far to go on both ends of the floor. I realize that it was a weak draft last year and there wasn’t really anybody drafted after him that will make much of an impact. (Except of course for the Greek Freak. But he had almost no track record either. He is exactly the kind of home run pick based on upside and gut that we’ve been throwing shade on. It’s just that it might happen to work out in this situation.) My point, and I think biggity’s, is that you will have poor success in the long term if you draft based on the eye test rather than analyzing what that player has already accomplished.

  28. So you put a lot of credence to the stats for a 1 and done college player? The Spurs have over the years gone with no 1 and done players by the way so if your point is the strategy should maybe to go with none 1 and dones for draft picks I think there is something to be said about that. For multi year college players and international players there are more stats to work with. You couple the lack of the stats with the lack of time spent in an organization for 1 and dones and the assessment would be a little different in my opinion.

    I think you are a little harsh on Shabazz in the sense that Adleman did his development no favors. Obviously this is a huge offseason and year for Shabazz. He does do 2 things well and if he works on his 3 point shooting for a 3rd thing and is not as much a liability on defense he is a rotation player.

  29. I understand the point being made, though I think biggity’s responses on here show you might be giving more credence to his comments than necessary. I liked Anderson and would’ve had no problem with taking he or Adams at 13; for this team, however, it doesn’t work as well because they lack productive athleticism enough to go with another player who has shown that (referring more to McDaniels, Capela, or PJ Hairston). The fact that Shabazz had any success in the NBA last season despite his poor metrics was because his physique and wingspan make it easier for him to handle the NBA than a guy like Shved has been able to do (and due to Adelman putting him in situations to succeed).

    As for the analytically-savvy teams, even if we just look at 2 considered on the cutting edge (SA, Hou), their choices aren’t necessarily following what the analytically-savvy journalist or fan thinks they should do. Houston passed on Kyle Anderson, spent a lottery pick on Royce White, and traded Nicolas Batum for Joey Dorsey. One of their best finds (Parsons) wasn’t considered a steal by analytical measures. San Antonio took an off-the-map selection last year (Livio Jean-Charles), (as pointed out elsewhere) missed on James Anderson and Marcus Williams (Marc Gasol was still on the board), cut Danny Green at first, and decided they didn’t want to keep the rights to Goran Dragic when he was drafted. Kawhi Leonard wasn’t an analytics darling, either; they used a combination of analytics and observation to see they could turn him into what he is today.

    Not seeing a strong analytical connection is a problem (though they likely use them considering they were one of the first teams with tracking cameras). However, even the cutting-edge franchises still use observation in evaluating and choosing prospects. I don’t think it’s that observation-heavy approaches are going to fail; it’s more that drafting in the NBA is so challenging that maximizing success means taking full advantage of what the metrics offer. The fact that SA and Houston (also Philly now) are the main teams focused on, yet other teams are successful in drafting, means that an analytics-heavy path isn’t the only way to avoid failure.

  30. My personal reading of Ben’s comments isn’t necessarily that he thinks analytics are the be-all, end-all, but an undercurrent of concern that Flip is drafting “athletes” the kind of way Al Davis used to draft them, i,e, he’d blindly take whichever QB had the strongest arm and whoever ran the fastest 40 times, a strategy that by the last decade or so of his stewardship led to mistake after mistake. I don’t think that is that unfair, Flip does definitely give off a kind of “relax, I’ve been doing this for thirty years, I got horse sense I don’t have to explain to you” vibe that is comforting from Pat Riley but a little worrying from pretty much any other NBA executive circa 2014.

    On a random rant, I would note that while I think that Pelton is a smart guy and he sometimes makes excellent predictions, his projected WARP is a terrible tool for player analysis. He really cherry-picks the data, and the actual full rankings shows a wildly chaotic system that just as likely to have a guy 20 spots too low as 20 spots too high there is literally no way to say it helps you select a particular player. He’ll say “look projected WARP predicted that Jan Vesely would be a lottery bust”. Yeah but you know who is directly below Vesely on that list? Chandler Parsons. The system shows guys who should have been picked 50th 50th, but it also shows guys who should have been picked sixth 51st. And while he “correctly” discovered Faried should have been drafted higher than 22nd, I don’t think drafting him #1 overall would have been a very smart play, so while Pelton specifically points to Faried as one he got “right”, I think that’s at least disputable. Our beloved Derrick Williams is #3 so if you went by projected WARP you still would have drafted him around the same spot and still have whiffed. And what are you supposed to do with data that shows guys like Josh Selby, Keith Benson and Trey Thompkins in the lottery and Nikola Vucevic and Klay Thompson in the 40s?

    I’m not saying analytics is worthless, and I am not saying I am smarter than Pelton or I can do better or whatever the usual troll internet comebacks to constructive criticism are. But just look at his projected WARP for previous NBA drafts and explain to me how you would use it as a front office person in the NBA to make more accurate picks when your team is on the clock. I bet you can’t. He’s done an excellent job persuading people that his projected WARP for draftees means something, such an excellent job that people seem to not even care that it pretty obviously doesn’t.

  31. LeBron let me lay it out for you just like this,,,To become a Legend which you already are…you can amass a Fortune,,,but what will separate you from everyone else from worldy to galacticly,,Is This,,,,To Join A team,,,that no one gives us a chance to win a world championship hat will make you all worldclass would be a move that would drop Jaws,,,and send the Tails a wagging,,Become A Minnesota Timberwolve,,this in of it self would say that Lebron,,,showed the world it wasn’t about self,,it was about world class unselfishness,,,to come to our team and yes make a lot less for you its not all about the Money ,,,you have that for years to come but to turn around a Franchise and lead them to the promise land would be a story that live in Infamy,,,,to come and turn our Franchise into a story that legends would froth about for years to come….To become a Timberwolve and blow everyones mind ,,,and to blow up the headlines for years to come,,,first and foremost because that is the last thing anybody would ever expect,,,there are those that say Athletes are about them selves and I say BS,,,you could come here and send a statement that LeBron was About Legend and what would separate you from everybody else would be to make a move no one ,,absolutely know one would ever expect,,,to show case youre talents and turn the sports world on fire by saying I am The Greatest and to attest to that the legendary LeBron Signed with the Timberwolves to make a Statment that what makes a Legend A legend ,, Is a Move That would be Legendary,,,and that would be to Bring the Allmighty Three to Minnesota,,,and let the Records be Recordeed In folklore for Generations to come,,that with the Legendary Three came one of the Most Unselfish moves in sports history to turn a Franchise into,,,A Champion,,,thats is what would solidify you and separate you from averone else that ever played Hoop,,,LeBron,,,I Challenge you to come to Minnesota and Blow everyones Mind,,My Friend,,,

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