Zach LaVine Speaks: Bringing the Bulls Back to the Playoffs, Improving His Defense, More

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Zach LaVine Speaks: Bringing the Bulls Back to the Playoffs, Improving His Defense, More

Chicago Bulls

Zach LaVine is one of the most elite bucket-getters in the NBA. Don’t believe me? Allow me to kindly shove you toward his 27.0 points per game, which currently sits 9th in the NBA.

Zach LaVine also happens to be one of the Chicago Bulls best advocates. Despite a rocky journey over the course of his tenure – not to mention, the repeated losing – he has been nothing short of professional. In fact, LaVine has expressed nothing but confidence in the organization’s ability to get back on the right track. Even as he sat on TNT and ESPN during All-Star Weekend last season, which proved to be a large-scale reminder that the Bulls were far from relevant, LaVine represented the team with pride and dignity.

I know this seems silly to applaud. After all, isn’t that just part of the job? Well, I think even the most casual fan recognizes that sometimes players don’t necessarily need to endlessly back their organization, especially when they are (1) the best player on that team and (2) losing night after night. LaVine feels a strong attachment to the Bulls, and that is likely why he answered the way he did when ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth asked for some of his personal goals.

I’ve had one thing in mind these past couple of years, and it’s just helping this team make the playoffs. And then from there we can just continue to work, but we got to build our habits better. I think the main thing that I’ve helped with, and Billy has helped me a lot this year, is building championship habits. If you don’t have championship habits going into each and every day at practice, off-days … then you’re not going to reach that next level. So being prepared each and everyday and trying to help this team make the playoffs. I think everything else after that, individual things, they’ll fall into place.

Even LaVine’s personal goals don’t just revolve around him.

Sure, a journey to the playoffs could do wonders for LaVine’s own perception, but he genuinely sounds more concerned about the team as a whole. This same feeling came through later in his interview, as well, when Hubbarth asked him whether he preferred a heat check 3-pointer or a posterizing dunk. LaVine said it depended on the flow of the game, but that he would gladly take neither for just another W.

Of course, for the Bulls to post a better winning percentage, LaVine does have to think about himself sometimes. Not only is he currently the team’s No. 1 choice (whether or not he should be is a different story), but there are undoubtedly several areas he can improve to better promote winning … *cough* defense *cough.*

“That’s the man thing, you have to hit on everyone of those aspects. For me to be considered an elite player – and for me to put in all the hard work that I want to put in, and I want to be known as a great player – you have to do that. You try to take the challenge. I think I’ve always been a really good on-ball defender, but over the last years, I haven’t done very well off the ball

I went into the offseason and I tried to figure out how to change that. So, just putting in more effort, watching film, and, like I said before, just trying to take the challenge of being that No. 1 guy on offense and defense.

Again, LaVine’s ability to truly be a winning team’s No. 1 option is up in the air, but I sure don’t mind him playing with that mindset or striving for that goal. Confidence is key, as is an ability to recognize one’s own shortcomings. The Bulls are lucky that LaVine can do both.

The rest of the interview is filled with other fun nuggets, like naming his favorite dunk contest moment and calling out Coby White’s driving. Any LaVine interview is usually a good one, so go ahead and check out the full thing below!

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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.