Zach LaVine's torrid start to the 2020-21 season has placed him firmly in the discussion for his first career All-Star selection.
In the first round of fan voting returns released by the NBA, the Bulls guard ranks fifth among Eastern Conference guards, trailing Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Jaylen Brown.
Hot on LaVine's tail are Trae Young and Collin Sexton in sixth and seventh place, respectively.
To be clear: The fan vote accounts for 50 percent of the voting for All-Star starters. That's what the above rank pertains to. A combination of fan, media (25 percent) and player (25 percent) voting selects two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference to start the exhibition. From there, coaches select seven reserves. So unless LaVine can supplant three of the four players ahead of him, the coach vote would be his ticket in.
Through 20 games, LaVine has built the strongest case of his career to earn a nod with averages of 26.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists on gaudy 50.8/40.1/88.6 shooting splits. All those marks would be career-bests.
LaVine, of course, is more focused on the Bulls' record than individual accolades. They sit at 8-12 and 11th in the East at roughly the quarter mark of the league's abridged, 72-game season, but only 1.5 games separate them and the sixth-place Atlanta Hawks (10-11).
“I feel like I’ve been playing at an All-Star level the last couple of years. I’m all about winning right now,” he said after a recent practice. “I think that (winning) would take care of everything. I would much rather be on a winning team and make it to the playoffs than any individual accolade. But once you start getting to that level, everything comes with it.”
The NBA plans to host an All-Star exhibition on March 7 in Atlanta, Ga., The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Thursday morning.
“More than fine with me,” LaVine said of the possibility of a game. “I think the NBA knows what they’re doing. I think they’ll obviously make everything safe. I don’t think they would do the game if it wasn’t safe for the players or the fans. So I’m always up for that.’’
Now, all that's left is to earn the bid.