LaVine's Dramatic Three-Point Improvement, Where's the Donovan Heat? Coach Thibs, and Other Bulls Bits

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LaVine’s Dramatic Three-Point Improvement, Where’s the Donovan Heat? Coach Thibs, and Other Bulls Bits

Chicago Bulls

A Week 1 fantasy football loss is officially in the books. Why do I play this painful game? And why am I still so excited for this weekend?


•   Thanks to poor play and a lack of nationally broadcasted games, Bulls players haven’t really been on the typical NBA fan’s radar. Outside of Chicago, Kris Dunn is still that guy whose name sounds familiar, Lauri Markkanen is that guy who’s supposed to be good, and Zach LaVine is that guy who can dunk. Recognition comes with winning, I get that. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating to see certain players not get the round of applause they deserve for certain accomplishments. Many fail to recognize just how well-rounded Zach LaVine’s offensive game has become. While he’s slowly but surely getting more respect as a true bucket-getter, I still think many folks fail to realize the leap he took behind the arc this season. As noted above, the man was the 4th-best unassisted 3-point shooter this season, which puts him in the same conversation as Damian Lillard, Paul George, Jayson Tatum, and Chris Paul. Not too shabby. In fact, not shabby at all.

•   LaVine went from averaging 5.1 attempts per game at a 37.4 percent clip last season to averaging 8.1 attempts per game at a 38.0 percent clip this season. Despite this noticeable improvement, though, it’s hard to say that many NBA fans (and heck, maybe players) would show him as much respect from downtown as the names we listed above. However, I think one of LaVine’s best qualities is his ability to recognize that indirect disrespect and use it as fuel. Each season we’ve seen him develop areas of his game in an attempt to change the dialogue around him. People saw him as a dunker, so he said “screw you” and took the 14th-most 3-point attempts per game. He also decided to skip the dunk contest in his own team’s city to remind everyone he was good enough for a 3-point-shootout invite. As we’ve discussed already, LaVine seems to be heavily focused on learning how to become a winning player this offseason, which includes more trips to the line and improved playmaking. After what we saw him do this season behind the arc, I fully expect to see better play in both these areas next season.

•   According to K.C. Johnson, the Billy Donovan stove hasn’t been very hot since ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first connected the Bulls to the former-OKC head coach on September 8th.

•   The other interesting tidbit from Johnson’s latest is the following note about assistant coach Chris Fleming: “He’s known to favor the read-and-react offensive system that Karnišovas prefers. And he already has strong relationships with several important players on the Bulls’ roster.” When I heard he was given an interview for the head coach position, I wasn’t at all surprised. However, these two points make me wonder whether he’s a more legitimate candidate than initially expected. My gut instinct is still no, but hmmm.

•   Well deserved. Now, what direction will the Raptors go? Will the organization try to run it back once again or will they try to shuffle some pieces around and offer a new look? It’s something to watch this offseason.

•   Coach Thibs in his natural habitat.

•   The Nuggets are ballin’ out, and they have Karnisovas to thank for that (at least … kind of).

•   Yo, where is Kirk Hinrich!?

•   For all us craving Chicago playoff basketball, the Sky got us covered.

•   Speaking of which … LET’S GO COURTNEY!

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Author: Elias Schuster

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