LA Clippers

On one-year anniversary of his injury, Zach LaVine is still finding his legs with Bulls

On one-year anniversary of his injury, Zach LaVine is still finding his legs with Bulls

A year ago, Zach LaVine was one of the most explosive players, and obviously dunkers, in the NBA, but all of that came into question.

LaVine tore his ACL against the Detroit Pistons a year ago on this date. He has since been traded from Minnesota to the Bulls and has come back from that injury, but the guard is still working to find consistency in his game as he works his way back into form.

LaVine’s latest effort was a 6-for-18 shooting day with 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists in a 113-103 loss at the Clippers on Saturday. He did log 31 minutes, which is the most he’s logged as the Bulls continue to ease him back into playing shape.

His 21 points were a team-high, but his shooting efficiency is lagging behind his typical numbers. In nine games so far, LaVine is shooting 38.9 percent from the field, which is lower than each of his previous three years in the NBA, and his 35.7 percent 3-point shooting is lowest since his rookie year. LaVine is averaging 13.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in 22.2 minutes this season.

“He’s still trying to find his rhythm,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said in the video above. “I think he’s turning some pretty darn good looks and turning them into tough shots and tough contested mid-range shots."

LaVine’s last two games have shown progress, even if the 6-for-18 shooting against the Clippers is below his average. In the loss at Portland on Wednesday, LaVine scored 23 points and was 8-for-13 from the field. The previous two games LaVine struggled from the floor, going 3-for-17 against the Lakers and 2-for-11 against the Bucks.

“He’s had stretches in the last few games where I think he’s shown what he can do,” Hoiberg said. “Now it’s about getting his rhythm and timing and getting him to understand when we produce good shots he’s got to raise up and shoot those. He can get a shot at any time he wants. He’s just one of those special players who can do that.”

Hoiberg emphasized how it is going to take time for LaVine after he missed so much time with a torn ACL. LaVine's Bulls debut came on Jan. 13, more than 11 months after the injury.

“We all need to understand something,” Hoiberg said. “He has not played a lot of basketball in the last year so he’ll get it back. I have no concern about that.”

Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against new-look Clippers

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USA TODAY

Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against new-look Clippers

Both the Clippers and Bulls have made significant trades in the last few days, and now they'll square off against each other this afternoon on NBC Sports Chicago. Coverage begins at 2 p.m.!

Here are three things to watch during the game!

1. Step right up, Bobby Portis

The three biggest winners of the Nikola Mirotic were Gar/Pax, the New Orleans Pelicans and Bobby Portis. He certainly didn't show that he's ready for a bigger role in Wednesday's loss to the Blazers, going for 8 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes. Then again, everyone was terrible against the Blazers. He'll get another chance against a Clippers team that just dealt Blake Griffin. Now's the time to shine.

2. Cristiano Felicio time

The Bulls paid $32 million to keep Cris Felicio around, and now they're going to see what they have in him. Whether he's deserved it or not, he'll get the chance to improve on his 3.9 points, 2.7 rebounds in 13.0 minutes averages this season. His 12 points and five rebounds in garbage time against the Blazers was a start in the right direction, but we're going to see much more before we're satisfied.

3. Also Paul Zipser

Also, the Bulls want to get a two-month look at Paul Zipser before deciding his future with the franchise. Zip-sanity was back in the rotation on Wednesday, logging 20 minutes and scoring nine points on 3 of 4 shooting from deep. That's a good start, and something he'll need to continue improving on if he wants to hang around. His .343/.324/.667 splits just aren't getting the job done but, again, he's going to get some significant run now. Time to show the Bulls what they'd be missing out on if they let him walk this offseason.

Report: Why Bulls passed on one of world's best passers

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AP

Report: Why Bulls passed on one of world's best passers

Milos Teodosic was on the verge of becoming the point guard of the Bulls' future, according to a report by Eurohoops and NBA Greece

The 30-year-old Serbian, who's known as a passing genius in international basketball circles, verbally committed to play in Chicago before the deal fell through, and he opted to suit up for the Clippers instead. 

"We initially had a deal with the Chicago Bulls," Nick Lotsos, the longtime agent of Teodosic, said to NBA Greece. 

“I met in Treviso, Italy, the head of international scouting Ivica Dukan, who is the man who took Tony Kukoc to Chicago. His opinion has a real value within the Bulls organization. He is practically the one decision maker on the team. We talked and he said to me that Milos was the best player they could get. After a few days the GM, Gar Forman, called me. We had agreed to a contract close to $30 million for three years, similar to the one Bogdan Bogdanovic signed in Sacramento. My only objection was that I wanted Milos to have the chance to opt out every summer because I believe that he can all-star money. We were ready to sign and Forman wanted the deal for one more reason. There are many Serbs in Chicago."

Despite GarPax seemingly showing strong interest early in the recruitment process, the team altered its course after shipping Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. Post-blockbuster, the team's desire to sign an older guard dissipated, according to Teodosic's agent. 

“I knew that the deal will not be completed after the trade," Lotsos said. "And two days later, Forman called me and explained to me that the team wanted to rebuild, so getting a 30-year-old point guard without NBA experience was out of the question."

With the rebuild in its initial stage, the Bulls are moving forward with Kris Dunn, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne at the 1. 

Still, though, one can daydream about having a PG drop incisive, imaginative dimes such as this one: 

Or this precise underhanded post pass: