Zach LaVine Has Kinda Been on a Tear Lately
It’s hard not to think the Bulls’ performance against the Denver Nuggets mimicked what Arturas Karnisovas had seen in his dreams. Not only was his team hammering the back-to-back MVP and best team in the Western Conference, but his max player was leading the way. Zach LaVine looked like a genuine superstar. While 29 points may not feel like a lot when compared to some of LaVine’s recent scoring outbursts, it was more than enough to push his team in the right direction.
Unfortunately, expecting the Bulls to make this game the new norm would be foolish. Time and again this season they have proven that consistency isn’t their strength. Expecting LaVine to keep up this dominant offensive play, however, might be more reasonable.
LaVine’s recent play has been overshadowed by the Bulls’ continued losing. Of course, that’s more than understandable, but we still shouldn’t let LaVine’s efforts fall by the wayside!
Indeed, since Feb. 1, LaVine has returned to form. He is currently averaging 27.8 points on 53.5 shooting from the field and 40.6 percent shooting from downtown over his last 16 games. The efficiency with which he’s scoring at the rim, in particular, is second to none … or, well, second to one.
Among guards who have averaged at least 6.5 attempts within 8ft of the basket since the start of February, LaVine ranks second in field goal percentage (64.8) behind only De’Aaron Fox (67.8), per NBA Stats. We saw his aggressive downhill game and smooth finishing skills on full display in Denver, as he went a perfect 9-9 on shots at the rim.
Feast your eyes on some of the plays:
Again, I understand that a lot of this can feel hollow when the wins aren’t coming along with it. But I also think the Bulls’ shortcomings fall far more on their overall roster construction than on LaVine’s shoulders. If anything, what we saw last night is just how significantly he can help his teammates when putting together these kinds of electric scoring nights. The more he’s able to get downhill and put legitimate pressure on the rim, the more the rest of the floor will open up. A player like Nikola Vucevic reaped the benefits of it last night during his strong 25-point performance.
LaVine now has seven games with at least 29 points since Feb. 1, which is tied for the 7th-most in the NBA, per Statmuse. Up that number to 35 points, and he’s tied for the 3rd-most games in the league with the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bulls’ 11th-place standing aside, that’s extremely freakin’ impressive, and it only speaks further to why Chicago has viewed him as a real building block.
Look, I don’t know what the future holds for the Bulls. I’m also not going to sit here and say that LaVine isn’t some kind of flawed player. We all know the guy has his issues and that durability remains at least a bit of a concern. But let’s not pretend that moving on from him is some kind of easy decision (I bring this up because we all know the future of this entire roster will be a big talking point this summer).
The moment a franchise forfeits a player like Zach LaVine, they’re going to be looking for someone just like him. He’s among the league’s elite bucket-getters, and Chicago is never going to let him go without getting the best possible deal in return.