Bulls’ Zach LaVine on Missing Playoffs: ‘I Worked My A** Off to Get There’

Zach LaVine

Getty Zach LaVine addressed the perceived grudge between Tom Thibodeau and him.

Zach LaVine has been pinned as a player that’s all flare and no results.

LaVine, who was traded to the Chicago Bulls in the Jimmy Butler trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves, missed out on a 2018 playoff appearance with the team that drafted him. Instead, LaVine has spent the past two seasons toiling in a Bulls franchise that is undergoing a major facelift — scoring 25.5 points per game last season as the Bulls finished with the seventh-worst record in the league.

And he’s worked doggedly to change his reputation in the league.

“I don’t do this to be a regular guy. I don’t take my body to exhaustion to be a role player. I want to be great in this league,” LaVine said in a press conference. “To be great you have to go to playoffs and win in games. I haven’t gotten that far in my career yet and it sucks for somebody that wants to be at that stage. Being traded here, I wanted to bring the team back to the glory days and get toward that stature again. So I work my a** off to get there and hopefully, I can continue to make this city proud and make my family proud.”

Despite LaVine’s presence on the scoresheet, he’s been regarded as a selfish player, shooting the seventh most field goals per game (20.0) in the league last season.

“They say empty stats or whatever it is, look, I’m gonna go out there and play my game regardless. I’m a team player. I’ll do whatever to win. If I have to try to go get 30 (points) or if I gotta go try and defend the best player or get 10 assists or whatever it is, I want to win. I know around the league I know where I rank at least. And I just want to keep climbing that ladder.”

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Billy Donovan Defends LaVine

LaVine is onto his sixth coach in seven NBA seasons as Billy Donovan takes over at the helm of the Bulls roster. Donovan, entering the first year of a motion offense install that thrives on spreading the ball, seemed aware of LaVine’s reputation as a selfish player and spoke candidly about the slight towards his new star player.

“I think the one thing with Zach is just being around him and watching him, he’s a great team guy,” Donovan said. “He’s obviously very gifted and talented. He’s had a challenging career. I think I’m his sixth coach he’s had since he’s been in the NBA. That’s an awful lot to deal with for a player, and you know different teams. But he’s always kept a positive outlook and he’s very, very open-minded about things.”

“I’ve really enjoyed him a lot. He’s a really good person, a great guy. He cares deeply, I think, about the organization, his teammates, and wanting to play well, and finding ways within himself in which he can help the group win and be better,” Donovan added.

LaVine Bulking Up for a Vital Role in Donovan’s Offense

LaVine has become one of the league’s hardest-working players in the offseason, often showing his preparation via social media.

The 25-year-old was looking visibly more muscular in his shoulders in a workout video posted on Twitter in November. Heavy’s Brian Mazqiue reported that LaVine’s workouts “seem to be geared more toward the guard absorbing and drive through traffic.”

This added element to LaVine’s game could prove valuable in Donovan’s motion offense that looks to space the floor and create more lanes to drive.

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