Zach LaVine is the one bright spot on an 8-11 Chicago Bulls team. He’s currently having the best season in his 7-year NBA career, and the primary focus for teams playing against the Bulls is how to stop his hot streak.
LaVine’s 26.6 points per game rank him 12th in the league, and he’s also averaging 4.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. His shooting has seen a significant improvement, especially his 3-pointers, which he shoots at a career-best rate of 41.9%. And on a very high volume considering he’s attempting 8.4 threes per game.
However, LaVine was even more spectacular in January, putting up 25+ points with a 75+ true shooting percentage, tying Charles Barkley (March 1988) for the most such games in a calendar month in NBA history. He averaged 28.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game on 53.8% shooting from the floor, 45.6% from deep, and 87.95% from the free-throw line, joining Steph Curry (2x) as the only players in history to put up 25/5/5 on 50/45/85% shooting in a month.
The downside for the Bulls is that they didn’t capitalize on LaVine’s epic month. Chicago played 13 games in January, which they’ve ended with a 5-8 score. That isn’t the way to keep a star player in the locker room. LaVine has a year left on his contract and can be a free agent in 2022. There’s no doubt plenty of teams are closely looking in Chicago’s backyard. The dynamic between the Bulls and the 25-year old star could be crucial this season for both sides.
The way he’s playing right now, LaVine will surely look for a maximum contract one season from now. So the Bulls have to decide whether they believe that he could be a focal point to built around in the years to come or choose another path and trade their best player. Many teams showed interest for LaVine, most recently the New York Knicks, but if the Bulls say he’s available, there’s no doubt many more suitors will pop-up.