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.”