When Zach LaVine hits the hardwood for the Chicago Bulls, he’s the star of the show. From his high-flying plays and athleticism to his elite scoring prowess, LaVine is the No. 1 guy for the Bulls franchise. It wasn’t until late March, when Nikola Vučević joined the team, that LaVine wasn’t the only All-Star on the roster.
That won’t be the case when he takes the court later this month as part of the U.S. men’s basketball team that will be competing in the Tokyo Olympics.
LaVine will be playing alongside guys like Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Kevin Love — all of whom are not only NBA All-Stars and NBA champions but Olympic gold medalists as well. So LaVine is one of the less accomplished players on the U.S. Olympic squad, but it’s not a bad thing.
To one basketball analyst, this is an exciting prospect, because LaVine is on his way to achieving his own greatness.
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Fran Fraschilla is Excited for LaVine to be ‘Around Greatness’
Fran Fraschilla, who is one of the Olympic basketball analysts for NBC, recently made a guest appearance on NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls Talk podcast. During his episode, Fraschilla raved about LaVine and mentioned how eager he is for LaVine to play for Team USA at the Olympics because of the exposure he will have to other elite players.
“I’m excited to see what Zach soaks up from being around greatness for a month,” Fraschilla said on the Bulls Talk podcast. “Because he’s on the verge of greatness.”
This past season has been the best of LaVine’s seven-season career.
LaVine was selected to his first All-Star game and averaged career highs in points (27.4), assists (4.9) and rebounds (5.0). The 2020-21 season was also his best shooting-wise, as he posted career-bests of 50.7% shooting from the field and 40.9% on 3-pointers.
The next step — NBA-wise — he has to make to achieve greatness is making it to the playoffs for the first time.
As noted by NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer, LaVine is the lone member of the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team who has yet to gain any postseason experience.
Now that LaVine has an All-Star appearance on his resume, the playoffs is the thing that separates him from other superstar NBA players — the thing that will continue to loom over his head and prevent him from taking that next step to greatness. Playing alongside some of the world’s greatest basketball players and competing at the Olympics could help LaVine with that next step, according to Fraschilla.
“What does he bring back from Tokyo and add to his game, not just on the court, but his mentality,” Fraschilla said.
’The Best Team’ LaVine Has Been On
LaVine is well aware of the talent he has been amongst during Olympic training camp and will continue to be around in Tokyo once the 2020 Games begin.
So, just as Fraschilla mentioned, LaVine knows that the Olympics can not only be a chance at bringing home a gold medal but a valuable learning opportunity as well.
“These are guys that have been around winning,” LaVine said during a media session, as reported by NBC Sports Chicago. “This will probably be the best team that I’ll be around. So try and compete for gold, pick up little tricks and just that mentality of how they approach practice, pregame, things like that, talks in the locker room. All that stuff I’m trying to bring back and add some little extra ammo for my own well-being.’’
Whatever lessons and experience he gets as an Olympian, it’ll be of benefit to the Bulls moving forward with LaVine leading the way. And it just might be the initial push he needs to get Chicago back in the playoff picture next season.