When all of the dust and rumors have settled, what will matter most is the work that the Chicago Bulls players like Zach LaVine have put in this offseason. No amount of handwringing and projection can account for that.
The results will come for the likes of third-year forward Patrick Williams who has trained with veteran DeMar DeRozan among his other summer activities.
One of those activities included joining rookie Dalen Terry for a star-studded workout.
Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White. Both players have been in the gym on and around a basketball court plenty this offseason. But the Bulls’ long-term plans rest with LaVine and the two-time All-Star guard is taking the necessary steps to sure up some of the potential holes in his game this summer.
LaVine Putting In Work
LaVine is already one of the best scorers in the game today. He was one of three players to average at least 24.0 points, 4.0 assists, and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 38.0% or better from beyond the arc last season.
But one bugaboo has been untimely turnovers, typically when he is moving or after deciding not to shoot mid-action.
He is attacking that this summer.
This is a just drill against air. But it is always good to see players working on their games in areas that could stand some improvement.
LaVine averaged his fewest giveaways in four years last season.
He did that and put up the aforementioned numbers on a balky knee that required surgery this offseason. He also played through torn thumb ligaments during the early portion of the regular season.
Zach LaVine, MVP?
Could LaVine garner some MVP consideration? Before the knee injury, LaVine averaged 25.6 points while knocking down over 41.0% of his triples – the only player to do that this past season was Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving.
Irving played just 29 games all season while LaVine’s stretch spanned 37 games.
There were 14 players that averaged at least 25.0 points, 4.0 assists, and 4.0 boards last season including DeRozan. The list reads like an MVP ballot sheet with names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic all appearing.
Only seven of those players made at least the 67 appearances LaVine did and only one — Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker — did all of that while also shooting the three at a 38%-clip or better during the regular season.
As for his defense, LaVine has improved an area of his game every season including his defense of late.
He made tremendous strides on that end while winning a gold medal last summer. And his defensive rating was 109.1 before the knee injury, in particular, before finishing at 113.4 on the year.
Earlier this summer, LaVine did an interview with Natasha Dye from People Magazine that centered around the joys and changes coming to his life as a new father. He also became the highest-paid Bulls player in franchise history by virtue of his five-year, $215 million max contract.
But LaVine said something else during the interview that was interesting, he said that he didn’t feel any additional pressure following the new money.
He also said that fans “really don’t have to worry” about how he’ll handle the challenges ahead.
“For me, I have my own bucket list and checklists and things that I want to accomplish for myself… I continue to go out there and play the way I am, have been, continue to, to try to lead the team to wins and get deeper and deeper into the playoffs.”
The Bulls were handled summarily in the postseason by the Milwaukee Bucks losing their first-round series four games to one.
But LaVine played well in his first postseason despite nursing injuries, notching a pair of double-doubles. He will have to improve upon that for the Bulls to meet “championship-or-bust” expectations placed on them.