As the Chicago Bulls prepare to reshape their roster for next season around All-Star talents Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine, most are pessimistic about the likelihood this team is contending at the end of next year.
And until they solve their starting point guard dilemma, not even the Windy City faithful can blame them.
Coby White will likely be injured to start the 2021-2022 season, leaving Tomas Satoransky as the only other point guard under contract as of today.
It’s possible that head coach Billy Donovan looks to LaVine to shoulder even more ball handling responsibilities.
The 26-year old guard averaged a career-high 4.9 assists per game this season.
Increased responsibility on the offensive end of the ball has seemingly always been a product of recent MVP-caliber seasons.
Look at Russell Westbrook, who averaged a triple-double and lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs in 2017.
Or perhaps an even better example is Stephen Curry who, absent Klay Thompson, nearly lead the Golden State Warriors to the playoffs out West while leading the league in scoring this season.
If the Chicago Bulls fail to land the ball distributor at point guard they so clearly desire, could we be saying the same of Zach LaVine at the end of next season?
Some of the most recently released odds suggest it isn’t meant to be.
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LaVine Given (+8000) Odds to Win MVP in 2022
In SportsBetting.Ag’s latest released odds to win the 2022 MVP, Zach LaVine (+8000) was given the 29th best odds.
Names that were given better odds include: Russell Westbrook (+2500), who’s been pushed past his prime with injuries, and Chris Paul (+4000) and Kyrie Irving (+4000), who both play with players (Devin Booker, Kevin Durant) with even better odds to win the award.
But it gets worse.
Kawhi Leonard, who’s recovering from a partially torn ACL, and Klay Thompson, who hasn’t played on an NBA court since June of 2019 were also given better odds.
To put any of these players ahead of a budding All-Star like LaVine in regards to MVP conjecture shouldn’t be considered anything short of disrespectful.
Fans are quick to forget that the Bulls guard was one of just 12 players last year to average at least 25 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game.
Three of them were the finalists for the 2021 MVP award: Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic (the winner), and Stephen Curry.
As long as Zach LaVine is going to be in a Chicago Bulls uniform next season, he’s got as good a much better shot at MVP than is being implied.
LaVine Is Committed to Bulls
In a recent interview with NBC Sports, Zach LaVine was asked about his looming extension talks with the Chicago Bulls.
As always, the All-Star sounded optimistic about a future in the Windy City, and the likelihood that the two sides strike a deal:
I mean, obviously, I want to be with the Bulls and you don’t want to implicate, you know, free agency, and I understand, like the cap room that goes into it with a sizable extension with me. So, I want the team to be good, but then I also want to be taken care of as well. I feel like I’ve done really well by the Bulls, and obviously I want to be here long-term, and I feel like I deserve what I get.
One thing he did mention as being thankful for is the consistency of being with Chicago for four years now, and knowing what to expect going into next year:
So for me, going into this next year, knowing I’m gonna have Billy as a head coach, knowing who my running-mates are gonna be, with Vooch and Pat, Coby (White), things like that, it’s exciting just knowing you’ll have some some bit of relevancy and consistency in there. Because like I said, I haven’t had that my career.
The Chicago Bulls and Zach LaVine will have a lot to talk about once the Tokyo Olympics wrap up this summer.
Because if he’s going to stay in the Windy City, these negotiations could determine the payroll of a fringe-MVP candidate in the not so distant future.