The Chicago Bulls didn’t have a great 2018-19 season (I know, I know: a take that hot should come with a warning). But as the team toiled around the bottom of the Eastern Conference, Zach LaVine put together an All-Star caliber campaign in Chicago.
The 24-year-old guard took a huge step forward last season (particularly near the end of the year), and we probably haven’t seen the best of him yet.
Indeed, the Ringer’s D.J. Foster recently wrote about why LaVine is in a prime position to take yet another major leap forward this season -going as far as to say that he could be in the running for the NBA scoring title, which … well, let’s talk about that:
— The Ringer (@ringer) September 5, 2019
Last season, LaVine put up 23.7 points per game (which ranked 18th overall in the league (9th if you’re counting only guards)) and had his best season shooting the basketball, going 46.7 percent from the field.
But while we have reason to believe LaVine is on the brink of stepping into the elite NBA shooting guard conversation, there are still doubts (like if he can repeat that performance on a winning squad, for one example).
To be sure, Foster makes a convincing case for LaVine, pointing out – among other things – that he averaged 22.9 points per game, 48.5 percent from the field, and 41.7 percent from three over the course of his final 40 games, which has been accomplished by only three players over the course of an entire season.
But even if he is capable of leading the league, I still have questions. Like, say … Is this what Chicago actually wants at this stage of the rebuild?
With other young, potential stars like Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Coby White penciled in for some serious court time this season, you have to wonder how long of a leash the Bulls give LaVine.
Last season he had the 14th-highest usage rate in the league at 29.8, but there’s reason to believe that number will go down with a fully healthy Bulls lineup and a true facilitating point guard. And that’s probably for the better. While we may not know exactly what the best version of this Bulls team looks like just yet, chances are it involves a lot of ball movement with a very balanced scoring threat. In other words, not hero ball.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m aboard the LaVine hype train, but I’m more excited about him becoming a two-way player than this team’s dominant ball-handler (even though he probably will be).
If LaVine happens to be ballin’ out and takes this team into the playoffs, then so be it, but the focus should be more on what this team can do as a cohesive unit. I don’t want to watch LaVine running his own game – I want to watch Wendell Carter Jr. sinking mid-range jumpers, Lauri Markkanen posterizing players, and Coby White flying by in transition. In other words, I want to watch the Chicago Bulls.
The LaVine hype is real, and I understand why, but we shouldn’t forget how important it is for this young team to get everybody involved.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.