Before any assorted media had a chance to ask Thad Young a question following Tuesday morning shootaround, he had something to get off his chest.
"Before we start, I just want to say Zach LaVine should be an All-Star. It should be said and done already," Young began, unprompted. "That guy’s been putting on a show for the past couple months. Been doing his thing. He’s been incredible. So Zach LaVine for All-Star. I'm saying it here and now, lets make sure we get this done. Everybody go vote, go do what you gotta do."
Young isn't the first Bull to plead LaVine's case, and he certainly won't be the last. The question, though, is who he is pleading to. Fan voting for All-Star starters ended Jan. 20 at 11:59 p.m. ET, the night before Young's statement.
Perhaps it's a call to coaches. Though the last fan voting returns had LaVine as the sixth-ranked Eastern Conference backcourt player, there remains the possibility of him sneaking in as one of the seven reserves, which coaches vote on.
That pool will be crowded, but LaVine has made a tremendous case for himself with his recent play. This month, LaVine is averaging 30 points (t-6th in the NBA), 5.1 rebounds and 4 assists per game on 49 percent shooting from the field (35.9 percent from 3). He's played 36.8 minutes per night in 11 January games.
"He’s done more than enough, he’s more than capable. He’s shown it time and time again, and he’s been great for us all season long," Young said. "He don’t have to pay me anything [to say this], that was my rook in Minnesota. He’s a great teammate, he’s one of the best ever, he wants to get better each and every day."
But no Young media availability would be complete without imparting a bit of veteran wisdom. When asked what Lauri Markkanen — who's season-long struggles are well-documented — can learn from LaVine's ascension, Young was candid.
"I think the confidence level of Zach and what he’s done can be instilled in Lauri a little bit. Lauri starts to miss shots, sometimes he gets down on himself. Zach misses a shot, Zach’s like, ‘I’m going to shoot the next one. I’m going to be more aggressive. I’m going to try to get to the basket,’" Young said. "And then being able to mix up his game a little bit. Not just, ‘Hey, I’m just going to shoot the 3’ or ‘I’m just going to drive and take it to the basket’ [without] having an in-between game or being able to mix in some post ups here and there."
On Markkanen's ability to do that within the Bulls' system: "Our offense is structured and predicated on 3s and getting to the basket. But coaches are still encouraging him to mix everything up. The coaches are encouraging everybody to mix it up — try to give opposing teams something different, something that they haven’t seen."
Starters and captains for the 2020 All-Star game will be announced Jan. 23, with reserve announcements coming Jan. 30. If LaVine makes it, Bulls fans can look forward to the All-Star draft on Feb. 6.
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