By most people’s standards, the Chicago Bulls had a successful 2021-22 regular season. The team finished 46-36 and clinched the sixth seed in the playoffs, making it for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
A large part of the Bulls’ success this season stems from the several moves they made in free agency. Namely the addition of all-star DeMar DeRozan, who enjoyed the best season of his career, averaging a career-high 27.9 points per game.
His play this season really kept the Bulls afloat as they dealt with a number of injuries this season. DeRozan also merged well with Zach LaVine, despite the fact that some questioned that pairing before the season.
LaVine Sounds Off
In a recent interview with NBC Sports Chicago LaVine gave his thoughts on the idea of playing with DeRozan before the season and how they meshed together.
NBC Sports Chicago: I remember DeRozan dismissing preseason questions about his fit with you. But you weren’t asked about it as much. Did you think you two would work together?
LaVine: I thought it was going to be a match made in heaven because you have the best of both worlds. In me, you have a really, really hungry guy who’s never been to the playoffs before. And in him, he’s somebody who has an extreme chip on his shoulder who has been at almost the highest level. Our attitudes met. And we had one goal.
NBC Sports Chicago: But did you think you two would fit this well?
LaVine: I think we shut a lot of people up.
Clearly, LaVine is proud of how he and DeRozan played together this season. The two of them leading the Bulls to the playoffs is an accomplishment in itself, especially for LaVine who will get to play in the postseason for the first time in his career.
LaVine will be a free-agent this summer and so far all signs have indicated that he and the Bulls plan to reach a new deal. If the team can keep LaVine in Chicago, it will be interesting to see how they continue to build around he and DeRozan.
During the interview, LaVine also spoke about playing for Team USA during the 2020 Olmpics where he impressed team USA assistant coach and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
“That means the world to me,” said LaVine, “those are the people you try to impress because they’re the people you’re among. I do want their respect and for them to understand what I’m about. It means a lot for coaches and players to have that mutual respect at that elite level.”
Turning the Page
While the regular season was a success for the Bulls, they now have the difficult task of taking on the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks starting on Sunday. Chicago lost all four meetings with the Bucks this season, playing them twice since March 22. In the last two meetings the Bulls lost by an average of 24.5 points.
The draw certainly isn’t ideal for the Bulls who are still shorthanded and don’t have a ton of postseason experience. It will be interesting to see how the Bulls will approach this series and if they can turn things around in a hurry.