Zach LaVine is playing as well as anyone in the NBA. Don’t believe me?
How about now?
No. 3 in the NBA Math player power rankings:
— NBA Math (@NBA_Math) January 23, 2021
Your eyes do not deceive you.
According to NBA Math’s Player Power Rankings, Zach LaVine is currently the third-best player in the league. With a player rating that sits at 23.47 as of Saturday, LaVine sits in front of the Dallas’ Luka Doncic (23.24) and right behind Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant (25.93) and Denver’s Nikola Jokic (26.51). Good company.
NBA Math’s rolling player rating obviously takes into account a player’s recent statistical performance, but it only focuses on that player’s previous 10 games. Additionally, the site explains their calculation are schedule-adjusted, so the fact that LaVine has seen massive success against the Trail Blazers, Lakers, Clippers, and Mavericks twice over that span plays a role in his boost up the chart.
In his 10 games that earned him the score above (which does not include the Lakers matchup this Saturday), LaVine averaged 29.1 points (six of those games he scores 30+), 6.4 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game. He also shot an absurdly efficient 53.8 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from behind the arc. The Bulls went 5-5 over that span and even rattled off a 3-game win streak to close things out.
With those numbers in mind, I don’t think it should be at all surprising to LaVine thrown into the same conversation as the league’s most elite players. Sure, NBA Math’s metric isn’t perfect (which one is?), and LaVine should not be lumped in with this tier of talent in general just yet, but there is no way around the fact that he is playing elite basketball. He has not only managed to somehow improve as a scorer (58.4 EFG%), but he has taken massive steps toward becoming a true all-around player. LaVine is currently averaging a career-high in assists (5.4) and rebounds (5.2), and his two double-doubles this season (one points-assist and one points-rebounds) already match last season’s total.
Oh, and we can’t forget the improved effort on defense. The stats may not exactly show the progress, but all it takes is one game to see that LaVine is playing with far more active hands and awareness. Remember when he blocked Russell Westbrook? Yeah, that was fun.
So, long story short: LaVine is totally awesome, and if he doesn’t land an All-Star nod this season, I will sue the NBA (My lawyer: That’s not how that works).
Keep track of NBA Math’s Player Rankings here.