Bulls Analyst Has Bold Prediction for Zach LaVine, And It’s Not Crazy

Getty Zach LaVine

The Chicago Bulls‘ 2020-21 season kicks off on Wednesday when the Atlanta Hawks come to the United Center. Expectations are higher than has been the case in recent years, and that’s especially the case for Zach LaVine.

Longtime Bulls analyst Sam Smith recently shared his predictions for the NBA season awards. Smith chose LeBron James as his MVP.

He predicts the Bulls’ Patrick Williams will finish second in the Rookie of the Year voting to the Charlotte Hornets’ LaMelo Ball. Smith doesn’t shut the Bulls out of all the notable honors. He does believe LaVine will walk away from the season with a pretty impressive honor.

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Sam Smith: Zach LaVine Will Make the All-NBA Team

Smith sees LaVine making his first All-NBA team.

LaVine hasn’t even been an All-Star as of yet, though you could make the case he was the victim of a major snub last season–especially with the game happening in Chicago.

LaVine averaged 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.5 steals while making 45% of his shots from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. That sounds a lot like the stat line of an All-Star to me, but he didn’t get the nod.

The bypass likely has something to do with the Bulls’ overall struggles as a team.

A player has to be extremely popular with fans and/or performing on an elite level to get the nod while playing on a bad team. Apparently, that wasn’t LaVine last season.

Based on what we saw in the preseason, there is every reason to believe he’s set to explode for an even bigger, and perhaps more efficient season.

During the Bulls’ four preseason games, LaVine shot 55.7% from the field, 45.4% from three, and averaged 19.7 points in 26 minutes per exhibition matchup. I should also mention he was plugged in on defense as well with on-ball effort to go with a total of 3 steals and 4 blocks. This could be quite the season for LaVine.

Here is a look at Smith’s choices for All-NBA First, Second, and Third teams.

All-NBA First Team

  • Damian Lillard
  • Stephen Curry
  • Kevin Durant
  • LeBron James
  • Joel Embiid

Second Team:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Luka Doncic
  • Anthony Davis
  • Jayson Tatum
  • Nikola Jokic

Third team:

  • Jimmy Butler
  • Kawhi Leonard
  • Zach LaVine
  • Zion Williamson
  • Karl-Anthony Towns

My NBA Awards Predictions

This is as good of a place as any to share my predictions on the NBA awards before the season gets started on Tuesday night.

MVP: Kevin Durant

It seems like forever since we saw Durant knifing through defenses, stopping on a dime to drain threes and mid-range jumpers. The preseason served as a reminder of his greatness. I believe he’ll lead the Nets to one of the best records in the NBA while taking home his second league MVP.

Rookie of the Year: Patrick Williams

He’ll get a strong push from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Isaac Okoro and Ball will dazzle with some highlight-reel plays, but Williams will start from Day 1 and deliver the most complete game of any rookie in the NBA.

Sixth Man of the Year: Carmelo Anthony

The sixth-man role is perfect for Anthony and he can still get buckets in bunches, which is one of the quickest routes to this award.

Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis

Davis probably could have gotten the nod last season, but with eyes firmly on him for major consideration again this season after such a strong postseason run, A.D. will get it this time around.

Most Improved Player of the Year: Michael Porter Jr.

While I’d love for this to be Lauri Markkanen’s award, and there is some reason to think it’s possible considering he’s in a contract season and the Bulls didn’t sign him to an extension (which means he’ll be a restricted free agent), I lean more toward the Denver Nuggets’ young star.

Michael Porter Jr. could be one of the five best players in the league in the next 3-5 years if he remains healthy.

Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau

I believe Billy Donovan will get some consideration as the Bulls surprise people with a 41-31 season. However, Thibodeau has made a career out of getting as much out of a team as possible. I think he keeps the New York Knicks at or just above .500 this season. With that roster, that’s good enough to win Coach of the Year.

All-NBA First Team

  • Luka Doncic
  • Damian Lillard
  • Kevin Durant
  • LeBron James
  • Anthony Davis

Second Team:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Steph Curry
  • Kawhi Leonard
  • Jayson Tatum
  • Joel Embiid

Third Team:

  • Jimmy Butler
  • Paul George
  • Zach LaVine
  • Nikola Jokic
  • Karl-Anthony Towns

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