The NBA All-Star Game is an offensive exhibition, a place where defense is played with all the energy of traffic cones for much of the night. It’s a 48-minute highlight package of offensive talent and dunks.
On those grounds, Friday night the Bulls’ Zach LaVine made his case to be an All-Star when the game comes to Chicago next month.
LaVine scored 43 points — including 20 straight for Chicago at one point — in what ultimately was a 116-105 Chicago loss to Indiana. LaVine put on a show.
2020 Dunk Contest champion pic.twitter.com/I5Y3CPx9qc
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) January 11, 2020
LaVine has some high-level support.
I can’t say it enough Zach LaVine is a problem. I can’t wait to watch him over the next few years blossom.
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) January 11, 2020
LaVine has an All-Star case: He is sixth in the NBA in total points scored this season (950), and 14th in points scored per game (24.4). He is shooting 40.1 percent from three and we know he can finish at the rim.
It’s not likely going to be enough to get him an All-Star nod, in part because LaVine is playing on a disappointing Bulls team. Also in part because there is good depth at the guard spot in the East — Kemba Walker, Bradley Beal, Ben Simmons, Trae Young, Jaylen Brown, Spencer Dinwiddie, Fred VanVleet — and when the coaches fill out their ballots for the reserves too many those guys likely finish higher than LaVine on the list.
LaVine has been invited to participate in the Dunk Contest again, but he has yet to decide on that All-Star Saturday event.
What he wants to do is play on Sunday — and he is putting up numbers to make his case right now.