Bulls

What would be the best 3-on-3 squad for the new Olympic sport?

What would be the best 3-on-3 squad for the new Olympic sport?

The Olympics have a number of sports come and go over the decades. Another new one has sparked some excitement among basketball fans.

Coming to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is 3-on-3 basketball. It's unclear what type of players will be competing in this, but the combinations have basketball fans salivating.

On In The Loop, Mark Schanowski and Nick Friedell (ESPN) gave their picks for the best 3-on-3 teams among current NBA players and a selection from the 1992 Dream Team. Watch the video above to see the full discussion.

Friedell's active players:

"If it's me, 3-on-3 right now with the guys in the league I'm going with Kevin Durant, LeBron (James) and Kawhi (Leonard) and I'm saying gonna say good luck scoring, for anybody. Because I know they can get going offensively but defensively, LeBron and Kawhi, and give you whatever Durant can give you I think that will top anybody."

Schanowski's active players:

"If we're going with current players I would love to see Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant back together again. They wouldn't pass to each other, but it would be crazy to watch. My third would be Steph Curry, who might be the best shooter we've ever seen."

Friedell's Dream Team players:

"I'll go with Michael, Scottie and Karl Malone just in case somebody wants to knock somebody over and give even more physicality to it. But I mean Michael and Scottie could beat a lot of those countries I feel like 2-on-3 with how dominant they are on both ends."

Schanowski's Dream Team players:

"Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were past their prime. You had Patrick Ewing and David Robinson as centers so I'm not sure they'd really fit in the 3-on-3 format. I think what I would do is go with Jordan, Pippen and Clyde Drexler, who could switch on everything. You don't really have a great shooter. The best shooter on the Dream Team might have been Chris Mullin. He didn't play many minutes in that. You think about Charles Barkley, a great offensive player who was dominant in the Olympics. He's not going to guard anybody so I don't want him in 3-on-3."

Bulls VP John Paxson says Zach LaVine 'deserves' to be an All-Star

Bulls VP John Paxson says Zach LaVine 'deserves' to be an All-Star

On Thursday, Zach LaVine will find out whether he makes his first All-Star game as a coaches’ reserve selection.

“Zach deserves to be an All-Star,” executive vice president John Paxson said. “I know we don’t have as many wins as we all would like. But nobody can ignore what he has done and it would be [an oversight] if he doesn’t get recognized.”

If he doesn’t, LaVine, and the Bulls, will be disappointed. But missing out shouldn’t obscure what is becoming a special season for LaVine.

Saturday’s masterpiece of 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in a road victory over the Cavaliers is just the latest example. With averages of 30 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists in January, he’ll also draw strong consideration for Eastern Conference player of the month.

Each summer, LaVine tries to add something to his game. This season, his focus centered on consistency and improving defensively. The 14 straight 20-point games is a sign of the former. And while he admittedly still occasionally drifts off the ball, his 1.4 steals per game mark is a career-best.

LaVine is on a streak of 14 straight 20-point games. His fourth 40-point effort of the season came with all defensive attention on him because Lauri Markkanen missed his second game of an extended absence with a hip injury. And that’s on top of the Bulls playing without Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr.

LaVine’s eight assists highlighted the improved decision-making that is defining this breakout season. And it also allowed him to join Michael Jordan as the only Bulls in franchise history to record at least 44-10-8 in a game.

That’s not the only time LaVine is getting mentioned in the same sentence as Jordan this season. He became the second-fastest player in franchise history behind Jordan to score 3,000 points in a Bulls uniform, needing 24 more games.

And he became the first player in franchise history to sink 300 3-pointers in 132 or fewer games.  He’s on pace to set the single-season franchise record for 3-pointers this season.

LaVine is averaging career-highs in scoring at 25.3 points per game, 3-point percentage at 38.9 and rebounding at 4.9. After a slow start, LaVine has increased his free-throw attempts to 5.6 per game, just .4 off last season’s career-high. He has increased his free-throw attempts per game every season he has been in the league.

Some critics still paint LaVine’s accomplishments as empty calories. There’s another line of thought that LaVine needs to be ball-dominant — his usage rate of 31.7 ranks 10th — to be successful.

LaVine still takes the occasional heat check. But his forced shots are way down and he’s carrying such an offensive burden mostly because he has to for this Bulls team. An example of his do-whatever-it-takes mentality: He has led the Bulls in rebounding since Carter went down to his sprained ankle.

LaVine has said he'd be more likely to participate in Saturday's slam dunk contest — and the 3-point shootout if he's invited — if he lands in Sunday's real All-Star game. What a weekend it could be. But even if it doesn't happen, LaVine is focused on this goal for the right reasons. He wants the Bulls to win.

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Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Zach LaVine drops 44 in Cleveland

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USA Today

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Zach LaVine drops 44 in Cleveland

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, John Sabine, and David Watson discuss the Bulls win in Cleveland, create their own Bulls Royal Rumble and squash the beef with Mark Giangreco.

1:00 - Jim Boylen's best moment of the season

2:30 - Another All-Star performance from Zach LaVine

4:30 - Luke Kornet had a good game for Luke Kornet

5:45 - Reaction to some criticism of LaVine's game

8:15 - Can one game change a players All-Star chances?

9:00 - The newest edition of "Guess what D-Rose did?"

11:30 - Guys react to viewer comments

14:00 - The Chicago Bulls Royal Rumble 2020

22:30 - Guys react to more viewer comments

25:10 - The guys squash the beef with Mark Giangreco

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Outsiders

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Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.