Note: This article was written after the Bulls lost to the Celtics on 1/25.
After years of poor management and poor coaching, the Bulls look like they are heading in the right direction. In a relatively weak Eastern Conference, and with a tough opening schedule, Bulls fans are pretty happy with their current 7-10 record. Many games have been thrown away due to the Bulls' lackluster ability to finish off games, and their massive turnover issue in which they rank last in the league. However, this will undoubtedly better throughout the year as the young team improves and learns how to play in these tough situations.
A major part of this Bulls team is star shooting guard Zach LaVine. As a two-time slam dunk champion, LaVine is one of the most athletic players in the NBA. He is a pure scorer. He can shoot, drive, and is even a playmaker. LaVine is averaging 27 points (8th in the NBA), 5 rebounds, and 5 assists on nearly 50-40-90 shooting. These are all career highs for LaVine, as he looks to be selected to his first all-star team.
Throughout his Bulls career, many trade rumors have come up looking to trade for LaVine. Since LaVine is such a great scorer, many playoff teams would love to add this talent to their team to attempt to take that jump from a playoff team to a contender.
A trade for LaVine looked likely last year, as LaVine seemed very unhappy with former head coach Jim Boylen. Luckily, the coaching issue was fixed and the Bulls new management hired a coach who has seen a lot of success in former Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. LaVine reportedly has a very good relationship with Donovan. It also seems that Bulls management believes in LaVine's potential as a future number one option, so for this year, it is probable LaVine is staying in Chicago.
With that being said, you also need to see the other side of the picture. If LaVine requests for trade or doesn't resign in Chicago I have come to accept that. LaVine is the current number one option for the Bulls. Although, LaVine is a great player he would not be a number one option on the majority of teams. In Chicago, he is awarded this role and has almost complete scoring freedom. If he wants to leave the Bulls to play second-hand to a superstar that is okay.
Nevertheless, LaVine has the potential to be a top 10 player in the NBA. So I believe that the Bulls should build around a player of this caliber. But, as much of a great scorer LaVine is, he needs to take that step on the defensive end. Through the entirety of the year, LaVine has improved on defense. He is athletic enough to become an elite defender, and we have seen it in glimpses of the year. Most notably, in the fifth game of the season against the Wizards. Up by one with 45 seconds left the Wizards had the ball. They needed a score. Former MVP and current all-star Russell Westbrook had the ball in his hands and drove to the basket. LaVine used great body control to make the drive tough on Westbrook. He then used his length and athleticism to block Westbrooks's layup and provided a crucial stop for the Bulls. The Bulls went on to win the game 133-130.
There is so much you can do with LaVine. He can play the guard, he is athletic enough to play the forward, we have even seen him run the point guard in crunch time. A player of LaVine's skill level does not come around every day. Bulls fans see the potential in him to get it done on both sides of the floor. He is the focus of the Bulls and should be a key piece in the future of Chicago and returning to contention.