After five seasons of great individual stats and little team success, Zach LaVine suggests that he is ready to change the narrative surrounding him.
“I don’t wanna go home in April. I’ve been in the NBA for five years now going on six. I’ve had some big nights in the NBA, but I haven’t played in a playoff game. I’m looking forward to trying to compete for those,” said LaVine in a recent interview with Gerald Bourguet.
Over a five-year NBA career, LaVine has racked up 4,710 points and plenty of clutch moments but is still searching for his first taste of postseason action.
Top 5 players from last season who took minimum 25 shots in the clutch:— Josh ✍️ (@JoshJBullsHoops) September 17, 2019
1. Kawhi Leonard: 12/27 FG - 44% FG
2. Bradley Beal: 11/25 FG - 44% FG
3. Zach LaVine: 13/31 FG - 42% FG
4. Damian Lillard: 10/26 FG - 38% FG
5. Russell Westbrook: 10/28FG - 35% FG pic.twitter.com/5GdvD0WrwJ
Many Vegas win projections have the Bulls pegged for a win total in the low 30s, so a playoff appearance would be mildly surprising. But the general NBA public is a bit higher on the Bulls after the acquisitions of veterans Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young, as well as stretch-five Luke Kornet to aid Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and LaVine in their quest to bring the Bulls back to the postseason.
Between those roster additions and a new-look coaching staff, the Bulls should look forward to a much better season but even they know health will affect their ability to stay afloat in a drastically changed Eastern Conference, something LaVine touched on in Monday’s interview, “I’m healthy, I’m ready to start the season. I want to play all 82 next year.”
Many expect LaVine to take an All-Star leap in 2020 with the festivities taking place in Chicago and with the 24-year old guard poised to again lead the Bulls in scoring.
Even if LaVine is to improve on his 23.7 points per game scoring average, he is fully aware that his defense and playmaking are the areas he will need to improve in to truly change public perception.
“I feel like everybody knows I can score and put up big numbers, but...I’m able to create plays off of breaking down the defense for others. I gotta work on my turnovers, I try to make some risky passes where you get a little bit of tunnel vision...but I feel like those aggressive plays sometimes help your team out.”
Kicking up the aggressiveness a notch while also focusing on setting up others is the recipe for success for LaVine in 2020 and likely is music to Bulls head coach Jim Boylen’s ears. And it just happens to be the easiest path to success for the Bulls in the 2019-20 season, and thankfully, all parties appear to be on the same page as we head into a pivotal year for the franchise.