So is Zach LaVine's Hand Ok or What?

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So … is Zach LaVine’s Hand OK, or What?

Chicago Bulls

Zach LaVine first popped up on the Chicago Bulls’ injury report back on Jan 13. He was listed as “probable” for the team’s game against the Thunder with a hand injury.

When speaking after shootaround and before the game, LaVine merely called the hand issue “normal basketball stuff.” Now, two weeks later, that’s not at all what I’d call it.

LaVine – who is currently playing with his hand wrapped – looks nothing at all like the player that started this calendar year off as one of the NBA’s top scorers. LaVine averaged 30.2 points on 51.2 percent shooting from the field and 46.8 percent shooting from downtown over his first six games of 2023. He was taking nearly 10.3 3-point attempts per game and feasting on catch-and-shoot opportunities.

Over the next five games (after his hand injury was announced), LaVine has averaged 23.2 points on a ghastly 37.5 percent shooting from the field and 16.7 percent shooting from downtown. He’s shot 1-8 from behind the arc in two of the five games and shot 0-7 in this most recent contest versus Indiana.

To LaVine’s credit, he has been able to still help the Bulls win three of their last five games. He’s also done a solid job supplementing the points he normally scores on his jumper with trips to the free-throw line. Still, it’s becoming abundantly clear that he isn’t right. And this really hurt the Bulls in last night’s 21-point blown lead and 116-110 loss to the Pacers.

LaVine shot just 4-14 from the field for 14 points and turned the ball over six times (four of which came in the 4th quarter). He truly looked like a liability at times handling the basketball, and the same can be said chucking up shots from long-range.

He discussed how the injury is limiting him with NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson after the game:

“I’m playing with a messed-up finger obviously on my shooting hand. You can see by the numbers I’m not shooting the ball well from 3. I can still get to the cup and shoot free throws, shoot midrange. Obviously, you can see by the numbers it’s affecting my shot. But it’s not going to keep me from trying to go out there and help and contribute.”

LaVine’s ability to try to play through injuries has always been admirable … but what if he isn’t helping? The question isn’t LaVine vs. whoever replaces him. It’s LaVine at 70% (or whatever) vs. whoever replaces him.

Look, I don’t know how severe this hand issue is nor how much longer it will last. What I do know is that LaVine made several costly mistakes on the floor last night, and it made me question whether or not he should even be out there at all right now.

If you’re hurt … just take the night off, dude. We’ve all seen how a healthy and determined Zach LaVine can help this team in recent weeks, so is there any world where a night or two off can help that version of him return faster?

I’m no doctor, which means the answer could very well be “no”. But I also don’t need to be one to see that his hand is clearly an issue right now, and I hope the team is doing whatever they can to get it fixed.



Author: Elias Schuster

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