Patrick Beverley Already Had a Clear Message for Zach LaVine

If I had to guess, this isn’t the year Zach LaVine thought he would have.

One summer after signing a max contract to remain the face of the Chicago Bulls, LaVine failed to crack the All-Star game and has watched his points per game, field goal percentage, and 3-point percentage all take a dip. Surely even more frustrating has been the fact that Chicago sits just 26-33 and 11th in the East. While there are still 23 games for this veteran group to make up ground and try to secure a postseason berth, the chances of that happening aren’t the highest.

To his credit, though, LaVine has continued to say all the right things when it comes to his desire to be a Bull. We also can’t help but recognize that his offseason knee surgery is a valid excuse for some disappointing initial play. Since the start of 2023, he has looked far more like the player who earned a massive pay raise, dropping 25+ in 13 of the team’s 23 games.

But the Bulls still need more, and their newest addition to the roster seems to recognize that.

Patrick Beverley addressed the media for the first time as a member of the Bulls on Wednesday. Known for his larger-than-life personality and having zero filter, he didn’t take long to let folks know his expectations for Chicago’s max player.

“Your job here is not to pass at all,” Beverley said he told LaVine during their first practice. “We don’t need you to pass. We need you to put the ball in the hole at an elite level. And that’s my job to keep preaching on that and keep harping on that. The ones who want to be great, they respond well to it. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Anthony Edwards, I’ve played with James Harden [and] Kawhi Leonard. I’ll get in their face and tell them. ‘Hey man put the ball in the basket,’ and they respond well. The guys who don’t, they aren’t the greats. I’m excited for that challenge, and I know he is as well.” 

Ohhhhhhhh boyyyyyyyy.

To be clear, LaVine spoke to reporters right after Beverley and had nothing but praise for the vet. He even shared that he’s attempted to recruit Beverley to Chicago in recent years. So any fear that this initial challenge wasn’t taken well by LaVine should be non-existent. But it will be an interesting relationship to watch.

I think there is always room for concern when someone comes in mid-season and borderline calls out the top talent. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t think this team needs it. While I don’t at all blame LaVine for all the Bulls’ shortcomings, this team is only going to go as far as he takes them. Lighting a fire under his butt to finish the season strong is crucial. And I got to at least respect Beverley for trying to do just that.

LaVine did average 27.9 points per game over the Bulls’ recent six-game losing streak, but this also came tied to just a 28.9 percent success rate behind the arc and three games with four or more turnovers. Re-establishing himself as an off-ball, catch-and-shoot threat while making far better decisions with the basketball down the stretch will be pivotal over the final month and a half of the season. Let’s hope Beverley’s words of encouragement (if you can call them that) will help him do just that.

Watch Beverley, LaVine, and Billy Donovan’s full press conference below:

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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