It's Hard Not to Think Patrick Beverley Has Something to do With Zach LaVine's Recent Play

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It’s Hard *NOT* to Credit Patrick Beverley for the Latest Zach LaVine Hot Streak

Chicago Bulls

When Patrick Beverley walked into his first practice at the United Center, he came ready with one thing to tell Zach LaVine: “Your job here is not to pass at all.”

The fiery guard told reporters in his first interview that he immediately challenged LaVine to focus strictly on scoring at an elite level. The max player later confirmed those were Beverley’s words, and it certainly feels like he has lived by them ever since.

Zach LaVine has been one of the best players in the league since the beginning of March. He’s averaging 35.0 points over the last five games on a highly efficient 56.5 percent shooting effort from the field. He has also shot at least 20 shot attempts in four of the team’s last five games. And that’s the first time we’ve seen that from him all season.

Indeed, the aggressiveness has undoubtedly been at a season-high for LaVine. And it’s a big reason why the Bulls have gone 5-3 over their last eight games and are contending for one of the final Play-In spots. It’s hard not to thank Beverley for igniting this firestorm, but even he’s not taking credit for LaVine’s scoring greatness. He’s just enjoying it.

Here’s what he said on the latest episode of The Pat Bev Show:

“I’m calling other people, like other NBA players, like “hey yo, Zach’s cold bro.” [Expletive] is like, “yeah he’s cold man.” I’m like, no, he is cold! He is so nice, and it looks so effortless, and it looks so nice. And I’m not doing anything but just telling him keep being aggressive,” Beverley said.

Not only did Beverley gush about LaVine’s offensive capabilities, but he spoke even more about how he has tried to motivate his new teammate. According to Beverley, he’s been pushing LaVine to keep attacking the rim instead of settling for jumpers.

“We’re on the plane, we’re watching film. I think he went over a screen, he didn’t see nobody, he pulled up 3. ‘Hey, why’d you pull up 3?’ ‘Because nobody was there.’ Ok, that’s one way to look at it. The other way I look at is, you just got nine layups, go get another layup. Just because they give you the 3 doesn’t mean you have to take the 3,” Beverley explained on his podcast. “You got nine layups, go get more layups. Miss two in a row before you take another 3.” 

LaVine deserves the loudest round of applause for executing, but this is some fantastic advice from the veteran guard. LaVine’s bread-and-butter has long been his athleticism. While no one is questioning his long-range shooting (he’s shot 38.5 percent from 3 in his career), he’s an extremely explosive player who can get downhill and put tremendous pressure on the rim. Few players can stay in front of him either in transition or the halfcourt, which is precisely why some teams might prefer he takes the step-back jumper.

In the Bulls’ recent matchup with Houston, LaVine went 10-14 on shots within 6ft of the rim. In his battle with the Denver Nuggets, LaVine went a perfect 9-9 at the rim. Out of the players who have taken at least 62 field goal attempts within 8ft of the basket over the last eight games, only big man Anthony Davis (73.9) has a higher field goal percentage than LaVine (69.4), per NBA Stats. That’s, um, pretty absurd!

Simply put, when LaVine is in attack mode, the Bulls are a better basketball team. The more he’s able to collapse the opposing defense, the more the Bulls’ offense is going to open up. Beverley discovered that the moment he arrived, and I can’t help but think he’s played a small part in bringing this performance out of LaVine.

Author: Elias Schuster

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