Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine is undergoing a metamorphic seventh season in the NBA.
Averaging career highs in points and assists per game to go alongside with a career-best 49.8% shooting percentage from the field, LaVine is garnering attention across the league along with a resurgent Bulls (6-8).
Phoenix Suns veteran guard Chris Paul took notice of LaVine during his 35-point performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder. LaVine hit eight 3-pointers in the 127-125 point loss — a shooting performance that inspired Paul to voice his praise for LaVine.
Chicago has since won back-to-back games and is a half-game back from the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with the help of LaVine.
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LaVine Evolving With Donovan
The Bulls offense has been one of the biggest surprises of the season for the club that won just 22 games a season ago.
Chicago, coming off a 125-120 victory over the Houston Rockets at the United Center on Monday, had seven players reach double figures for the fourth time this season — a recipe for success Donovan hopes continues this season.
“I envisioned trying to play like that,” Donovan said. “I’ve always felt if you can get five to seven guys every night in double figures, it keeps everybody engaged. I think the ball finds the open man. I think guys shoot the ball more comfortably.”
Monday’s game marked the second time in franchise history that five players sank three or more 3-pointers and 20 3-pointers overall, per NBC Sports. It was the sixth straight game the Bulls posted at least 115 points in a game.
“We got a lot of firepower,” LaVine said. “I think we’re all starting to learn to move the ball a little bit. I think I’ve done a really good job this year picking my spots, understanding when to shoot and when to pass. I think other guys have started to do that as well. So it’s been fun.”
LaVine showed poise in decision-making late in the game. He poured in 14 of his 33 points in the third quarter and found opportune times to defer to his teammates, dishing three of his seven assists late in the game.
He now has seven 30-point games this season behind only Damien Lillard’s eight through 14 games.
LaVine Shines as a Passer
While LaVine has maintained a strong scoring presence this season, he also posted his first double-double of the season against the Mavericks on Sunday, posting 10 points and 10 assists in a 117-101 win.
When the shots weren’t falling for LaVine, his willingness to move into a distributive role showed his growth this season.
“Zach knows now that he’s gonna do his numbers. He’s gonna get what he needs to get for us throughout the course of a game because he’s gonna have the ball in his hands a lot,” Thaddeus Young said. “The question is: Can he get us involved and active into the game to help him out? And he’s been doing a really good job.”
The Bulls have as of late, posting 101 bench points in their past two games, which would be a league-high mark if maintained.
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