Zach LaVine isn't rescuing anything
though the Bulls simply need more NBA-level players in their rotation, so he'll help
The Bulls hung around for a half with the Knicks last night but eventually succumbed to fatigue and their opponent. It’s been more than a few games now where the team offense has gone back into the mud from whence it came. There was a nice stretch there, and I’m sure we’ll be frequently reminded of it after the season, where Coby White, Patrick Williams, and others shot the three extremely well.
The more recent downturn is not entirely due to shooting regression, but it probably did at least affirm a cap for some of the improvement we saw prior. Coby White looks like a starting PG, and that’s a big deal, but he’s not at an All-Star level and only held back by LaVine usage. Williams I’m not sure has even improved in this new era more than he got back up to his career 3pt average. He had perhaps his worst game of the season last night. Both have been playing very heavy minutes and playing through lingering injury.
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The other guys are role players through and through, and truly abysmal in that game. But that’s their level with or without LaVine, if they were ‘more consistent’ they’d be better, and make too much money to be on the Bulls. (Vuc is the exception to that franchise ethos, paid extremely well for an inconsistent role player)
Then the bigger problem is now the Bulls are looking for backups to those role players, and nobody is defying the odds and popping from the fringe. So you can have Andre Drummond win you a game, but then the guy taking his spot in the rotation is playing fine but ultimately a 6’4” center. And I just can’t with Dalen Terry. I see all these low draft picks on opposing teams have some basic basketball skills, like Grimes and McBride for the Knicks, and Terry's skill looks to be 'he can run fast, sometimes even in the correct direction”.
This team’s deep roster construction consisting of a total lack of size seems to have a primary directive of making everyone covering the team mention “missing” Vucevic.
So now, where even the fewer wins are uninspiring, it’s a Bulls team searching for answers again. And based on past behavior, they’re going to search for as long as it takes to where that answer isn’t ‘maybe we were a bit lucky and against a soft schedule and our talent base isn’t as good as we think’.
Looming is the return of Zach LaVine, which reportedly could happen as early as Friday, starting a new chapter in what has to be one of the more hilarious trade holdouts in NBA history.
It’s been entertaining to see the conflicting objectives (sometimes from the same people) manifested in dueling ‘narratives’ to where LaVine can both be discussed like he’s a star player, but also that he’s not any good.
The truth, of course, lies somewhere
in the middle near the butt-end: LaVine is a good player and likely objectively ‘worth’ the max contract, but not above it to where a team is that motivated to pay additional tax money and player or draft assets to acquire him.
LaVine’s had a long track record, and non-Bulls teams do scout the league a bit. I don’t think his value has taken a meaningful dip after his quitting on the team early in the season or that the Bulls were “playing better without him” for a few weeks there.
I mean, it was funny as hell, I just don’t think that meaningful. For example, Woj’s latest that LaVine “needs” to show trade suitors that “he is healthy and that he can impact winning” is delightfully unserious.
There will be a huge “impact on winning” coming this weekend, because the Bulls next two games are against the Hornets.
LaVine, who need I remind everyone wasn’t even that injured, will be what he always has been. And if he is different, it’ll be in too few games to mean more than a potential fluke. Though if there was a franchise that looked way too much into small samples without context, it's your Chicago Bulls. So maybe “game recognize game”, here?