Bulls Season Rewind 17-18: Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine Season Averages:
Coming over from Minnesota on Draft Day 2017 as part of the Jimmy Butler trade (along with Kris Dunn and the rights to Lauri Markkanen), Zach LaVine is a player Bulls fans were excited to see on the court. The two-time Slam Dunk champion – still just 22 years old – was showing a lot of promise as a shooter and scorer for the Timberwolves before his season was cut short due to an ACL tear.
As a result, LaVine came into this season knowing he’d miss a large portion of the year due to injury, but the 4th-year shooting guard worked hard through his rehab and was finally able to get onto the court in January. He appeared in 24 games with the Bulls before being shut down with knee soreness, but he showed enough to get Bulls fans excited about what the future could bring.
Though inconsistent in minutes and performance due to the recovery from injury, LaVine had flashes of what he could one day bring to the table, including games in which he took over down the stretch to take a season-best win over Minnesota, a glimpse of his otherworldly athleticism when he dunked all over the Sacramento Kings, and a consistent soft touch from behind the arc. Let’s take a deep dive into some of LaVine’s best moments of the year:
February 9, VS Minnesota Timberwolves (Bulls 114, Wolves 113)
In what might have been the team’s biggest and most exciting win of the year, Zach LaVine’s star shone brightest against a Minnesota team filled with familiar faces. LaVine scored a season-high 35 points and outdueled former Bull Jimmy Butler down the stretch as the Bulls rallied from a 17-point deficit to take a big win in front of a roaring crowd at the United Center. LaVine managed to be efficient from the field even without shooting well from downtown (hitting just 1-6 from behind the arc), showing off his skill as a scorer and the confidence to lead a team in the team’s nationally televised win.
LaVine stat line: 35 points (12-26 FG), 5 rebounds, 2 steals
February 5, AT Sacramento Kings (Kings 104, Bulls 98)
In a game in which the shorthanded Bulls played without Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn shortly following the trade of forward Nikola Mirotic, LaVine helped carry the Bulls to a competitive effort in Sacramento and filled up the stat sheet, leading both teams in scoring and nailing 4 three pointers. But the most memorable moment of this game was his absolutely insane dunk over the Kings’ JaKarr Sampson, a clip that was one of the dunks of the year in the entire league.
LaVine Stat Line: 27 points (9-18 FG), 4-8 3PT, 3 rebounds, 2 assists
January 13, VS Detroit Pistons (Bulls 107, Pistons 105)
LaVine had a lot of games statistically better than this one – he had 11 games where he scored more than 20 points – but this one was special because it was his first time on an NBA basketball court in 11 months. Making his Bulls debut in front of a hyped crowd, LaVine got things started off the right way by draining his first shot, a 27-foot jumper from the right wing, and showcasing the smooth game Bulls fans were waiting all winter to see. He would wind up with 14 points despite playing on a minutes restriction as the Bulls held off the Pistons to win their 13th game in 20 contests.
LaVine Stat Line: 14 points (5-9 FG), 3-4 3PT, 2 assists