Rebooting the Bull: How can Zach LaVine elevate the Chicago Bulls
Written By Rahul Lal
When the Chicago Bulls hit restart on their franchise this offseason by trading Jimmy Butler, they got a consolation prize of Zach LaVine. Bulls fans hoping he turns into the next Jimmy B, sorry. While he may not turn into a superstar, LaVine is a great player and has given us plenty to salivate about now that he’ll have his opportunity.
In Minnesota, LaVine spent a large portion of his career playing third or fourth fiddle. While being the third option this past season, he put up 19 points, 3 boards, and 3 assists in the 47 games he played before suffering an ACL tear. LaVine was one of the most obvious breakout candidates before the season started and flashed some serious potential and versatility on the court.
The ACL tear is concerning as an injury would be to a player whose game starts with his athleticism but, as a freak athlete, he should be able to recover nicely. LaVine is an above average distributor though his stats don’t reflect it. He has great size to play either guard slot and shot above 38% from the three each of the last two seasons. As we’ve seen for years in Philly, bad teams have somebody step up because of a need for production. LaVine figures to be that guy for Chicago this year. With the mindset changing in Chicago, they should look for better efficiency from LaVine and to gain the city’s defensive mindstate.
In Chicago, defense isn’t an option - it’s necessary. LaVine hasn’t been the best defender as he didn’t even average one steal per game in the 37.2 minutes he played last season. There is reason for optimism considering his athleticism, though. Players can develop into better defenders and that all starts with the mentality and their body. LaVine’s former teammate Ricky Rubio put it best when describing LaVine’s ambition by showing amazement for his quick recovery from surgery. Within weeks, LaVine was shooting and working out again - Rubio admitted he was on crutches barely moving for six weeks after his own ACL surgery. While the rest of the roster has a lot to work on, LaVine will be a bright spot this season and should get every opportunity to develop as both the lead scorer but also as a defender.