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Zach LaVine and Jim Boylen are clearly at odds, both in style and results

the team’s nearly-highest paid player needs to speak more, not less

Oklahoma City Thunder v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With only two wins in the opening month of the new year, frustration has truly taken its hold. It’s not only the losing, but the brand of basketball the team has been forced into running is neither inspiring or enjoyable.

An apathetic fan base voicing negative thoughts about a franchise or coach is hardly newsworthy. But when a player does so that’s when things can get interesting.

As each loss mounts, it’s become routine for Zach LaVine to be the one that voices his concerns. Speaking openly in media sessions, LaVine has found himself questioning why his team is unable to play a modernised game style.

It shouldn’t be like this, where a player is left wondering why his team is unable to move and share the ball like a fellow rebuilding team like the Atlanta Hawks. Especially when those ideals would’ve been more in alignment the coach they just fired midseason before he had a more healthy roster to work with.

“Something’s obviously wrong,” LaVine said after the Bulls’ recent 10-game losing streak. “We weren’t losing (by) double-digits earlier in the season. We might have been losing, (but) we didn’t even have a full roster. So I don’t know. We’re a better team now and we’re getting blown out. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Typically these type of complaints are better left behind closed doors, but LaVine questioning everything has never felt more right.

Like the fan base, everything about LaVine’s words and body language suggest frustration. This was meant to be a season of progress, yet the rebuild has stagnated towards regression under an out-dated coach whose future should only be temporary.

Not only is it nice for us to hear this, but those in management - who from all indications are 100% behind Boylen and wanted this ‘culture change’ to happen - need to hear it as well.

However, does Zach LaVine of all people have enough influence to force a shift? He may be the most recognisable player on this roster, but it’s all relative.

And that’s put more into question when even as the team’s leading scorer, he’s far from a complete player. To the point where it’s fair to question if the Bulls are actually better without him.

For most teams, particularly those who struggle to score, losing a player capable of dropping 30 on any given night is significant. And yet, in the six games the Bulls have played without LaVine this season, they have won four. Whereas the team under Boylen when LaVine plays is 3-19.

(metrics averaged over those X games, not summed across the games)

This isn’t enough sample to really work with, and there’s obvious context in the opponents faced and other scheduling influence. The wins haven’t necessarily come against top-tier competition — San Antonio, Orlando, Cleveland and now Miami. Still, it’s hard to ignore the noticeable leap the defense takes when LaVine is arguably their worst defender (non-Jabari division), just as it did in an impressive win against the Heat. In terms of style, it’s definitely more Boy-ball Road Dogg action when LaVine sits.

And while the Bulls may not truly ‘be better without LaVine’, but the mere fact that it's worthy of question diminishes the impact of LaVine’s words.

Even so, his voice should carry more weight than the oddities his coach delivers daily.

While Boylen calls out his players for their embarrassing performances and conditioning levels, his players are astutely questioning the game plan. This should be damning for any coach, even more so for one who’s questionable methods have been endorsed by management.

Something needs to change. It needs to be dramatic. And it may just take those who wear ‘Bulls’ across their chests to speak out and be heard.