The Bulls revealed a new take on their classic black pinstripe jersey for the 2019/2020 NBA season. They would pick the perfect player to showcase their new “statement jerseys”, because this season Zach LaVine is looking to make a big statement!
Last year Zach LaVine had an All-Star caliber season. Zach was one of only 10 players to average 23 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists last season. These numbers are comparable to players who participated in last year’s NBA All-Star game.
Unfortunately for LaVine he was on a Bulls squad that was in the middle of a rebuild, and suffered multiple injuries to key players, and could only manage 22 victories on the season. A losing record will easily have coaches looking the other way for All-Star selections.
Zach understands that. That’s why his goal isn’t to make the All-Star team this year. His goal is simply to win. When asked about if his goal was to be an All-Star this year, here’s what LaVine had to say,
It would be great, obviously, that’s one of my goals. I had an All-Star season last year, but you got to have the wins behind that. I feel everything comes from winning. The better we get, the more you get noticed as an individual.
This comment shows Zach understands not only the importance of achieving team success but also that he must take it upon himself to elevate the team. The NBA is a superstar’s league, and Zach is ready to prove he be considered a superstar.
LaVine has without a shadow of a doubt noticed that his name is nowhere to be found on the list published by various sports outlets such as ESPN’s Top 25 NBA Players under 25 years old, or Bleacher Report’s Top 15 shooting guards. These omissions are only going to put more fuel on the fire, igniting inside Zach, as he sets out to unleash an inferno upon the NBA this season.
Opposing teams have already been looking for fire extinguishers during the pre-season. He has been a walking bucket, and finished as a +30 in this +/- category, during the Bulls last game against the Toronto Raptors. His shot is too wet to sag off of him, and his first step is to quick to play him close, he can finish around the rim, or simply pull up in your face. It’s clear Zach can score in his sleep, but what about his defense?
The knock-on LaVine’s game has been his defense, and here’s what he had to say about that aspect of his game,
I’m just tired of people talking shit about my defense. I’ve always been a good on-ball defender. But there’s no reason I can be this good offensively and not be that good on the defensive end. So I’m taking more pride in it. I’m pretty sure it’ll show. I’ll make sure of that.
So far it has been showing, LaVine has strung together several heady defensive plays, causing deflections, and playing the passing lane for steals. Coach Jim Boylen has challenged LaVine to become more of a two-way player. The Bulls’ free-agent acquisition Thaddeus Young has also been in Zach’s ear, giving valuable tips on becoming a better defender. Zach has all the physical gifts to be a good defender. However the main attribute to being a good defender is an effort, and so far Zach has been putting in that effort.
If Zach becomes a two-way star, it’s no reason that this won’t become a long season for him and the Bulls. One that will see him on the court during the All-Star break and during the post-season. This is a statement season for Zach, and after it, the list-makers are going to have to put some respect on his name.