Zach LaVine averaged 25.5 points per game for the Bulls last season and wasn’t as close to making the All-Star team in the East as Chicago fans think.
LaVine thinks he understands why — he’s on a struggling Bulls team, one that was 22-43 when play was halted due to the coronavirus. If there is one takeaway from The Last Dance Bulls/Jordan documentary, it’s that winning matters.
In a Q&A with Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype, LaVine talked a lot about winning, including when he was told he had the highest season scoring average in Chicago since Jordan (he just edges Derrick Rose‘s MVP season).
That’s something that I didn’t even realize until you just told me! (laughs). It’s cool, but you won’t be recognized as great or get put where you want to be put for individual things – you need to have that team success. That’s what I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to helping the Bulls get back to where we’re supposed to be.
LaVine did a lot of talk about winning.
But what I’ve learned through this and through basketball is that everything comes with winning. I really just want to be a winner because everyone benefits from it. It’s something that all of the great players do. It doesn’t matter if you put up 40 points a game, you’re not going to be looked at as a winner.
Coming out of high school and college, I’ve always been a winning player. Now, I just want to do it in the NBA. Then, I think you’ll get the recognition that you deserve…
[Winning] is something that I want to do and get better at. The hardest thing in sports is learning how to win. It drives me because I’ve accomplished a lot of things, but that’s something that I haven’t accomplished. I’m looking forward to the chance to go out there and show everybody that we can do this – not just individually, but as a team. People count you out and you take that and use it as motivation; at least, that’s what I do.
The Bulls hired new team president Arturas Karnisovas out of Denver, new GM Marc Eversley out of Philadelphia, and others to make the Bulls winners. Part of that is amassing talent and better developing it, but also making sure the talent — and the coaching staff — all fit together. For example, a LaVine and Coby White backcourt would be offensively dynamic (especially if their playmaking for others improves), but would it be good enough defensively to win games? Talent for talent’s sake is not enough.
It’s good to hear LaVine saying all the right things, talking about his desire to win. About his willingness to make sacrifices. We’ll see if that translates tow wins.
The Bulls are going to be a fascinating team to watch over the next couple of seasons as Karnisovas changes their direction.