A real life hack of mine when it comes to NBA media consumption is to gloss over any and all awards conversation. It’s a real time-saver. Like, who even won MVP 3 years ago, and what interest is there in determining who the next one will be in February?
So I don’t particularly care much if Zach LaVine is named to the All-Star reserves list tonight (news should break around 5:57 PM via Shams tweet), but it would be a relative injustice if he’s not selected.
Because we all know he’s already an All-Star...in our hearts!
We did a case study on LaVine making the East roster ten days ago and he’s only strengthened that case since then. During a time when some dummy thought the team would have another injury-riddled tankathon they instead have been winning with LaVine contributing all over the court and leading close victories.
Zach LaVine last 9 games:— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 23, 2021
The Bulls are now in the playoff picture in the East. pic.twitter.com/26dx7DlBZo
You could find motivation to ‘root’ for the selection knowing it’s very important to LaVine himself, and he seems like a good and professional guy. The Bulls seem extremely motivated to stump for their player, getting their owned media arms to bolster it incessantly for weeks.
But they would’ve been better served getting Zach some better teammates instead of hype videos, because awards selections are still very goofily correlating with ‘being a winner’. Not only in terms of team success, but then that success leading to a higher profile to where the individual is being paid attention to more by national analysts and observers. I too find the commentariat’s slowness to change their opinion on LaVine a bit annoying, but also completely forgive anybody covering the entire league if they’ve gloss over the Chicago Bulls for the past, oh, ten years. The franchise hasn’t been trying too hard to succeed, and that sends a message that they aren’t very worthy of being paid attention to.
What I’m more interested in, instead of the last few All-Star slots (would an injury replacement satisfy anyone?), is what LaVine’s improved play means for the franchise direction. I have been persuaded by this improvement to declare that it is no longer acceptable to do a teardown trade using LaVine to get ‘assets’. But I have not yet been convinced that the Bulls should pay him the max, let alone do so a year early with their cap space this summer. I likely would come around if Zach keeps this up all season, and he’s playing at that level this year so far. But there’s a lot of games left, including potentially playoff (or at least play-in) ones.
So I never understood the urgency to declare Zach LaVine an All-Star before he is officially named one, or something like “he’s a max player folks” because he’s playing like one right now. It’s illogical to treat every player disappointment with ‘we need time to evaluate’ yet player improvement with ‘I’ve seen enough’. The beauty of LaVine’s contract situation and age is that there is plenty of time! If he keeps this up, then the decision becomes easy. There’s no need to have anxiety over it, outside of ownership’s disdain for paying players market rate.
But maybe that’s reason to feel an emotional investment for LaVine to get the award that he’s earned? To me, the concept of recognition lagging behind performance is just the way of the league, and it doesn’t actually matter if a podcast puts LaVine on their list because it’s likely given trends that they just will next year.
But I can see a case where the reputation, right now, matters. If it’s giving the Bulls pause to give max money to a player never named to an All-Star team, or that the team’s self-identified position in the star collecting timeline is influenced because of an All-Star selection...well, that’s a bad sign if they’re in any way altered by a subjective, flawed, vote.
So I don’t know, I seem to be writing a lot about something I said I don’t particularly care about. Maybe it’s all worth it for Zach to make it just to have the Twitter and telecast campaign shut up already. Or we can better dunk on Joe Cowley and his editor. Or this selection will perpetuate the Bulls in the national conversation: LaVine is an All-Star, so therefore he is a winner, and therefore the Bulls will get more high-profile games, and therefore their players will be seen in a better light, and therefore will be winners, and therefore...
That could all start tonight if LaVine is selected. Or it’ll be a snub so egregious that angers such a prolific fanbase that it’ll just further illuminate what we know already: that LaVine is better than he was, playing like a superstar you don’t trade away for another team reboot.