Numbers behind LaVine’s hot start to season


Zach LaVine just keeps getting better.

In the two-and-a-half seasons since recovering from the ACL tear that underpinned his June 2017 trade to the Bulls, his growth as a scorer was linear. 

That trend has continued in his first year under new head coach Billy Donovan -- with some notable steps as a facilitator sprinkled in to boot:

But let’s go a few layers deeper. Here are the numbers behind the offensive display LaVine is putting on:

  • LaVine’s current 27.4-point scoring average ranks fifth in the NBA, behind only Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Damian Lillard. He entered Tuesday immediately leading Luka Dončić.
  • To reach that average, LaVine is attempting 8.9 3-point shots per game (7th in the NBA), making 38.7 percent of them.
  • 2.9 of those attempts have been catch-and-shoot looks, on which LaVine is shooting 40 percent. 
  • He’s also generating 1.46 points per possession (84th percentile) on cuts. As much a terror off the ball as with the rock in his hands.
  • But he’s been pretty good there too. LaVine’s 12.4 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions per game slots fifth in the NBA. His 1.08 points per possession produced ranks fifth out of 17 ball-handlers running more than eight pick-and-rolls per game (min. 7 games).
  • LaVine is also one of 45 players (min. 7 games) generated more than 10 drives per night. He’s scored points on 72.6 percent of those drives, fourth of 45. His 59.2 percent shooting on drives ranks sixth in that group...
  • … and his 12.6 percent turnover rate 44th.
  • Stay positive.
  • LaVine’s 76.6 percent success rate in the restricted area (4.6 attempts) bends the mind. That’s 14 points better than the current league average of 62.6 percent for that spot.
  • In fact, LaVine is filling it up with better-than-average efficiency from every zone on the floor -- except the right corner, where his 4-for-11 mark (36.4 percent) falls a hair short of the league average 38.3 percent.
  • By Cleaning the Glass’ count, 30 percent of LaVine’s shot attempts have come at the rim this season. 28 percent have come from mid-range. 42 percent have come from behind the arc. He’s a threat from everywhere at all times.
  • Just ask the Kings, Lakers, Clippers and Thunder. LaVine’s streak of four consecutive 30-point games from Jan. 6 - Jan. 15 is the longest in the NBA so far this season.
  • In that streak, LaVine averaged 37.5 points and shot 58.2 percent from the field (22.8 attempts) and 52.1 percent from 3 (12 attempts).
  • Per ESPN, he's the first Bull since Michael Jordan to post four straight 30-spots on better than 50 percent field goal shooting.
  • The Bulls, of course, went 0-4 in those games.
  • That streak was snapped by the fifth points-assist double-double of LaVine’s career -- and first since his rookie season with the Minnesota Timberwolves -- with 10 points and 10 dimes in a win against the Dallas Mavericks.
  • LaVine has dished 74 total assists, good for 5.3 per game. A career-best mark.
  • His most recent dime came with 46.9 seconds to play in Friday’s win over the Houston Rockets. A LaVine swing to a Lauri Markkanen 3 put the Bulls ahead 119-113 and effectively iced the game.
  • LaVine is averaging 35.6 minutes per game, almost a full minute more than last year.
  • But his usage rate (which accounts for possessions ending in a shot attempt, foul-draw or turnover) is actually down two points this season from last -- from 31.7 percent to 29.7 percent.
  • Of 17 players with usage rates of 29 percent or higher (min: 7 games), LaVine is: 3rd in true shooting percentage (64 percent), third in effective field goal percentage (59 percent)...
  • … and 15th in assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • Still, his facilitating tick-up has been real in the face of persistent ball pressure. LaVine’s 24.3 percent assist rate is currently a career high.
  • So are his 14.6 assist points created per game -- which continues an upward trend in every season since 2016-17, which was shortened by the torn ACL.
  • That means LaVine is accounting for 42 of the Bulls’ fourth-ranked 117.4 points per game (35.8 percent).
  • Combine his increased facilitating and efficient scoring, and LaVine is averaging 27.4 points and 5.3 assists with a 64 percent true shooting percentage.
  • Two players have ever cleared those benchmarks over a full season: Giannis Antetokounmpo (2019-20) and Stephen Curry (2015-16). As of Tuesday, Kevin Durant (30.6 points, 5.7 assists, 67.5% TS) sits above that threshold this season.
  • Last season, only Antetokounmpo, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard and James Harden posted marks better than the minimums of 25 points per game, five assists per game and 60 percent true shooting. Solid company, albeit early.

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