Zach LaVine Is Probably Worthy of His First All-Star Game, But It'll Be Tough

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Zach LaVine Is Probably Worthy of His First All-Star Game, But It’ll Be Tough

Chicago Bulls

In case you didn’t already know, Zach LaVine wants to be an All-Star.

[Gasp!]

The 24-year-old hasn’t been shy about calling a nod in this year’s game a major goal of his. He talked about it at Media Day. He’s talked about it in interviews. He talks about it after games. LaVine wants it bad, and fortunately for him. he might be doing just enough to turn his dream into a reality.

On Thursday afternoon, the NBA released its third round of All-Star voting and LaVine currently holds the 6th place among Eastern Conference guards.

LaVine’s vote tally has dropped one place since the last NBA release, but he’s riding neck-and-neck with the Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry.

In any case, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed plenty of heated debates about whether LaVine truly belongs in the All-Star game (ESPN’s The Jump talked about it, and the Twitterverse has been sure to keep it a relevant topic). But I think I found the most interesting conversation on the matter from the guys in The Athletic’s No Dunks podcast.

The conversation starts right around the 29:30 minute mark, so feel free to give it a listen for yourself:

Long story short, J.E. Skeets asks whether Zach LaVine is as worthy of an All-Star appearance as Trae Young and Bradley Beal. In a lot of ways, the answer is yes. Each player’s team has struggled mightily this season, and LaVine hasn’t personally lost to either of them yet this year (the Bulls are 6-0 against the Hawks and Wizards).

On top of that, the circumstances for all three players are pretty darn similar. All of them are the No. 1 offensive option (whether they should be or not) on an objectively bad team. And if “winning” is a conditional term in making the All-Star game, LaVine technically has the upper hand in this category over both players. Now, with that being said, Beal has the benefit of proving he’s a capable All-Star in the past (Michael: That probably does matter, but should it? I don’t think so for a *2020* All-Star Game). Meanwhile, Trae Young has a whole other category to flaunt on his resume with his impressive assist totals.

To take the No Dunks conversation a bit further, let’s take a look at how these players stats stack up against one another’s:

Trae Young:

  • PPG: 29.1
  • REB: 4.5
  • AST: 8.5
  • FG%: 44.2
  • 3FG%: 36.9
  • WS (win shares): 3.3
  • Team Record: 9-23

Bradley Beal:

  • PPG: 27.6
  • REB: 4.7
  • AST: 6.5
  • FG%: 43.9
  • 3FG%: 30.9
  • WS: 2.3
  • Team Record: 13-27

Zach LaVine:

  • PPG: 24.6
  • REB: 4.6
  • AST: 4.0
  • FG%: 44.0
  • 3FG%: 40.0
  • WS: 3.2
  • Team Record: 15-27

LaVine might have fewer points per game, but he’s without a doubt shooting the best among these three players. Young and Beal are both doing a bit more to help the team in other categories, but Young and LaVine’s win shares are practically the same (not to mention, one whole game better than Beal).

The No Dunks podcast also compared LaVine’s season up to this point to Kemba Walker’s 2018-19 All-Star campaign. Through 42 games last season, here is how Kemba Walker faired on an 18-24 Hornets team.

Kemba Walker 2018-19 (through 42 games):

  • PPG: 25.0
  • REB: 4.2
  • AST: 5.7
  • FG%: 43.4
  • 3FG%: 35.5

Walker was averaging about one more assist per game, but otherwise, everything is about the same. Not to mention, this season’s version of LaVine is shooting way better.

Of course, each season differs, but the point made (and a big hat tip to No Dunks for this) is the precedent has been set for a player with LaVine’s stats to be worthy of an All-Star spot.

But that doesn’t mean he’s going to make it.

Trae Young is going to be an All-Star, that feels like a given. He’s currently among the top two East guards, which means he’ll likely be a starter. He could very well drop, but for the sake of this discussion, let’s just assume he makes it.

Beal and LaVine, then, will likely be in a position to duke it out for a reserve spot. Reserve slots are fully dependent on coach votes, and conference has a total of 7 reserve slots (3 guards and 4 front court players). If the two players currently in first end up starting, Young and Irving, you have to imagine players like Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry, Ben Simmons, and Jaylen Brown will all grab a coach’s attention because of their team’s success.

At the moment, I see Young, Walker, Irving, Simmons, and Brown/Lowry filling the roster, If that’s the case, this means Beal and LaVine both miss the cut.

The most realistic way then for LaVine to crack the list feels like an injury, which means NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gets to handpick a player. In this case, LaVine could beat out Beal because (1) it’s in Chicago and, (2) like we said before, LaVine has technically won the individual matchups.

To tie a bow on this, it’s complicated. Judging how coaches will vote is tough, so while LaVine has arguably done enough to earn a spot, he could come up just short once again.

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)


Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.