Zach LaVine Deserves Better Than Another Lost Season

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Zach LaVine Deserves Better Than Another Lost Season

Chicago Bulls

After the Bulls lost to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, and the Pacers surprisingly beat the Philadelphia 76ers, the Chicago Bulls are one loss or one Washington Wizards win away from postseason elimination.

So while the Bulls were not technically void of all hope when Zach LaVine sat down to speak with reporters after last night’s loss, the first-time All-Star was not going to avoid the inevitable.

“I’m in the boat with everybody else,” LaVine said on the media Zoom call. “We didn’t do enough throughout the season to do enough to put us in a position. There are a lot of games we could’ve won and we were talking about earlier where we’ll be sitting here at this time of the year with some of the losses that we had that we should’ve won [or] the record that we should’ve had. It’s always what we should have did and yada yada yada. But we put ourselves in this boat, and, obviously, I’m riding along in it. It’s upsetting, and you got to be accountable. It sucks, though. Obviously, I want to be in the playoffs and be on that stage. Obviously, we’re just not there yet.”

To be fair, LaVine isn’t just riding along in the boat, he’s sinking with it.

Despite the fact that he can swim with the best of them, it’s another season where the Bulls have tied him to the mast and taken him down with them. The guy can be the team player all he wants, but it’s simply a fact that this Bulls team didn’t fail to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season because of him. Not even close. LaVine has averaged 27.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game this season, all of which are career-highs. He has averaged the 8th-most points per game, shot the 6th-highest effective field goal percentage among players who average 17 or more shots per game, and has been one of the most clutch bucket-getters in the league (7th in clutch points). Not to mention, he took a step in the right direction on the defensive end of the court. He did his part.

LaVine might take the responsibility for another lost season, but anyone who’s turned on a Bulls game knows it’s not his fault. Hell, just look at last night.

With their lives on the line, LaVine showed up. He ended the night with 41 points on an efficient 15-27 from downtown. In the 4th quarter, with the Bulls down 18, LaVine scored or assisted on 14 of 17 straight points to cut the Nets lead to just five. The guy was Superman flying with ease. His teammates were a brick made of kryptonite. It was a barrier he couldn’t breakthrough.

Unfortunately, that has been the situation all season long. LaVine developed into one of the best guards and pure scorers in the NBA, while the other players around him failed to develop at all. It’s why we saw the front office make the bold decision to acquire Nikola Vucevic, and it’s why we’ll likely see them make more bold decisions this offseason.

LaVine is the humble and ideal teammate. He has stuck by his organization’s side through chaos, and I’m sure he will continue to stick by their side as they retool under new management. At the same time, LaVine is a player who has won just 130 of 410 games (h/t StatMuse). As that margin increases, his patience will trend in the opposite direction, and I couldn’t help but think about that as LaVine uttered the following words last night: “I’m going to get there, but we just got to work for it.”

He likely meant nothing by this, but it illustrates his situation well. LaVine is going to get there. He is going to have big postseason moments as he begins to put two feet into his prime. The Bulls, on the other hand, have to work for it. LaVine might still see himself as part of that process, but it’s only a matter of time before he realizes he can swim.

Author: Elias Schuster

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