So I guess Zach LaVine is enjoying DeMar DeRozan’s scalding hot start as much as the rest of us.
In Monday night’s 121-103 blowout victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, LaVine reportedly urged his All-Star teammate to surpass the 40-point threshold for the first time this season. However, DeRozan, who finished the game with an all-too easy-looking 38 points, told LaVine to hold his horses.
“He was trying to force me to get 40 tonight, and I told him I was tired,” DeRozan laughed. “Like, you know, that’s just us. Pretty sure there will be plenty of games where it’s vise versa. Like I said, when you have respect for one another, it makes your job easier.”
DeRozan and LaVine have been arguably the NBA’s top duo to start the season. Once a pairing that many questioned after reports of the initial DeRozan addition dropped this summer, the two are now the only teammates to share a spot within the NBA’s top-10 scoring ranks. DeRozan sits 3rd in the league averaging 26.9 points per game, behind only Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, respectively. As for LaVine, he rests comfortably at No. 7 with 25.9 points a night. And while that number is technically trending in the wrong direction for a player who averaged 27.4 points per game last season, it’s safe to say he couldn’t care less with the franchise off to its best start since the 2011-12 season.
LaVine deserves a round of his applause for the unselfishness he has displayed to start this season, as does DeRozan. But I’m not sure we should perceive it as some massive surprise. Not only has LaVine always been a willing passer, but his ball-dominant persona was built largely off circumstance. The Bulls needed the versatile scorer to keep their bottom-ranked offense afloat in years past. To stay competitive, it was a role LaVine was willing to play, but it was not one he hoped to keep:
“You don’t want to have to try to do everything, it’s not fun,” LaVine told reporters in the preseason. “So I’m getting easy shots … I’m getting wide-open shots, and I’m still able to play my game being in the pick-and-roll [and] handling the ball. But it’s not like it’s an every single possession type thing. And I’m enjoying it.”
Don’t get me wrong, I think LaVine embraces the idea of being the face of the Bulls franchise, but I also think it’s a role he’s more than willing to share if it means he can finally taste victory.
The same can likely be said about DeRozan … and Nikola Vucevic … and Lonzo Ball.
“Nobody has egos, nobody feels entitled, none of that,” DeRozan said about the Bulls win over the Lakers. “The only thing, first day, we all got together, the only think I told guys and guys wanted was to win. And you got to be serious about that.”
With a 10-4 start to flaunt, I think it’s safe to say this Bulls team heard DeRozan’s message.