In fact, during Smith told Colin Cowherd on his podcast, “LaVine is way better than Booker.”
Smith pointed out LaVine’s size, speed and shooting advantages over Booker in making a strong point in favor of the Bulls star. The major difference in Smith’s eyes is the presence and play of future Hall-of-Famer Chris Paul.
Smith definitively states: “That’s what Booker Zach LaVine needs.”
Smith Has a Strong Point
It’s easy to look at Booker and the Suns in the NBA Finals awaiting the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks vs. Atlanta Hawks, and to take that as proof Phoenix’s star shines brighter than LaVine.
However, this comparison can’t be seen in a vacuum. As Smith points out, the biggest difference between the Suns of the last four or five years, besides the excellent coaching of Monty Williams is the presence of Paul. LaVine has never had the luxury of playing with a great, or even good point guard.
To Smith’s point, LaVine is superior to Booker when it comes to field goal percentage, both this past season and over their careers (.507 and .458 over .484 and .455). The same can be said for three-point shooting (.419 and .385 over .340 and .352), rebounds (5.0 and 3.8 over 4.2 and 3.7), and that doesn’t begin to touch on the fact that LaVine is the far superior natural athlete.
When you take all of those things into consideration, it’s easy to see how one could come to the realization that LaVine is superior to Booker. This comparative shot chart I was forced to unearth to prove my point online further supports the point.
Will LaVine Get the Point Guard He Needs?
It appears as though the Bulls are going to do everything possible to bring in the kind of lead guard who can be LaVine’s CP3. The problem is: Hall-of-Fame lead guards don’t grow on trees, and when they do sprout up, they don’t come cheap.
Paul has a player option for the 2021-22 season that would pay him $44 million. At one point, that seemed like a horrible contract for the 36-year-old. Today, as the Suns play the “show me my opponent” game for the NBA Finals, it seems more like the price for success.
The formula the Suns have used to get to this point should inspire the Bulls. It should also make it very clear, they won’t get the most out of LaVine until they find him a worthy backcourt mate.
What About Coby White?
As hard as White plays and as resilient as he is despite ups and downs, he’ll probably never be the kind of backcourt partner LaVine needs to get to the next level. As NBC Sports’ K.C. Johnson points out, White may still be a part of the long-term plans, but he would be best served as a sixth man.
Management traded away several young pieces at the trade deadline and White’s name never surfaced in any conversations I heard. So it seems solid. He’s on a rookie deal, consistently draws praise for his work ethic and team-first mentality and has shown the ability to put up big offensive nights. What’s not to like? Questions about whether he can be a starter or part of a three-guard rotation don’t need to be answered until you’re getting into rookie contract extension time. That’s not this offseason.
This quote came back in April, you wonder if things have changed. Stay tuned.
- Potential Bulls Free-Agent Target Has Eye-Popping Salary Demand: Report
- Lauri Markkanen Projected to Land in Western Conference on Budget Deal
- Bulls Urged to Team Zach LaVine With Superstar to Form ‘Lethal Backcourt’
- Wild Trade Proposal Would Land Bulls Damian Lillard
- Bulls Legend Rips Phil Jackson for Treatment of Kobe Bryant