This summer, Zach LaVine signed a 4-year contract worth $78 million dollars with the Sacramento Kings, which the Chicago Bulls promptly matched. The reception was mixed at best. Many detractors of the deal pointed to his inefficiency in his injury shortened season, in which he played only 24 games, shot 38% from the field, and scored 16 points a game. He was coming off an ACL injury. Supporters of the deal believed last season was an anomaly, and that LaVine had another gear in him, one that might be worth the hefty price tag to keep him. So far, the supporters have been right. And that’s been a blessing for the Bulls, because if LaVine wasn’t playing up to his contract, this team would look like the worst in the league.
In six games for the Bulls, LaVine is averaging 29.3 points per game. In their loss to the Mavericks, he had 34 points on 11/15 shooting, including 5/7 from the 3-point line (CBS Sports). Zach looks like a completely different player this year, which is just what the Bulls were hoping for. If you look at his shot selection on NBA.com, it looks similar to his trends last year (lots of pull ups, yikes). But instead of shooting sub-35% in catch and shoot and pull up shots, he’s shooting 50% and 46%, respectively. From within ten feet, he’s improved from 56% to 81%.
LaVine also looks more like a combo guard, although that’s mostly due to the fact that his starting point guard has been Cameron Payne in all but one game. It hasn’t translated to big assist numbers yet, but it does put pressure on the opposing defense. When Zach drives, unlike last year, he’s able to get to the rim. Instead of contested midrange jump shots, he’s finishing with dunks like this, or collapsing the defense and dumping it off to a big man or kicking out to an open shooter.
All these positives are great for this young Bulls team, who sit at 2-4 with a daunting 4-game home stand coming. Without LaVine’s production, those 2 wins are almost assuredly losses and the 4 losses are much uglier. Without Lauri Markkanen, who is sidelined with an elbow injury, the Bulls didn’t have a reliable scoring option outside of LaVine coming into the season. A starting lineup of Cameron Payne, LaVine, Justin Holiday, Chandler Hutchison (in the wake of the Bobby Portis injury) and Wendell Carter Jr. is not a world beating lineup by any means, so a shot of scoring espresso from Zach is much needed.
Everyone had their doubts about Zach, including me. I thought he was best served in the 6th man role. He’s now proving everyone wrong, and showing how valuable of a scorer he can be. He’s got things to work on, mostly on the defensive side, but it’s hard not to get excited as he strings together so many strong performances. If he keeps this pace up, he could be a front-runner for Most Improved Player. For now, just bask in the glory of his efficient scoring. And maybe, if you counted yourself as a doubter, send him something nice with a card that says, “I’m sorry.”
Bulls acquire Otto Porter Jr. for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker
In what came as an unexpected deadline move, the Bulls acquire a former 3rd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft Otto Porter Jr. from Washington for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis.
Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys are back to cover the biggest story surrounding the Chicago Bulls ahead of today’s NBA Trade Deadline. The Bulls trade Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis, and a 2023 2nd round pick to the Washington Wizards for Otto Porter Jr.
The guys discuss the initial reaction from Bulls fans and the shock that hit about acquiring Porter. What does it mean for the Bulls rebuild and their plans for free agency in 2019 and 2020? The guys discuss Otto Porter Jr.’s career so far in the NBA and why the Bulls would be willing to take on his remaining 2-years, 56-million dollar contract. The guys debate the pros and cons of this deal and some of the upsides to Porter’s game. Does Locked On Bulls hate the deal, love the deal, or sit somewhere in between?
What does the loss of Bobby Portis mean for the Bulls? The guys discuss Portis’ time with the Bulls, why he was ultimately dealt, what his feelings might be, and what his value is going to be in restricted free agency this summer. Should the Bulls have been able to get a draft pick in addition to taking on Otto Porter Jr.’s money? The guys discuss the possibility and whether the Bulls had all the leverage or not. The guys also talk about the Jabari Parker experiment coming to an end. How will the front office be able to explain how it went? Will Parker be successful with the Wizards and beyond this season? All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.
Give your reaction to the Bulls acquiring Otto Porter Jr. at Locked On Bulls text and voicemail line at (331)-979-1369 or on Twitter @LockedOnBulls.
Bulls Trade Deadline Countdown: Lakers check in on Jabari Parker
According to ESPN Insider Brian Windhorst, the Los Angeles Lakers could be looking to move Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in a non-Anthony Davis deal before the trade deadline. Enter the Bulls and Jabari Parker.
Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys start the show talking about the Bulls only real news of the Trade Deadline Week coming from ESPN Insider Brian Windhorst who said the Los Angeles Lakers may have interest in Jabari Parker.
Windhorst said on The Hoop Collective podcast this week that the Lakers have not discussed any deals for Anthony Davis that have included guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Enter the Chicago Bulls. Windhorst has said that he is not guaranteeing a deal being done by Thursday’s deadline but would not be surprised if Jabari Parker was on the Lakers in the next few days. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Jazz checked in about Parker’s services (no word if this was recent, they did check in back in late December).
The guys also talk about Windhorst’s quote “Bulls really like Caldwell-Pope” and whether or not they buy that or if it was just an assist to the Lakers, LeBron James, and Rich Paul. Locked On Bulls talks through a few trade scenarios, why this deal would only be done if Caldwell-Pope approves of a trade, and why Chicago would more than likely buy him out in any deal.
Locked On Bulls day two of talking about the NBA Trade Deadline includes what the Bulls trade scenarios should look like from Jordan, Matt, and Bulls listeners. Should the Bulls take a look at some of the wings available in Phoenix? What’s the real value of Bobby Portis and Kris Dunn together? What can they bring you separately?
Jordan has a three-way deal including the Bulls, Grizzlies, and Jazz. Bulls listeners ask about a possible backcourt break up of McCollum and Lillard (deadline and offseason) and if there is any interest in Frank Ntilikina. Finally, would you trade the Bulls core players for Anthony Davis (minus Lauri Markkanen) and trade him this summer for a new young core? The guys discuss all of these topics and so much more on Locked On Bulls.
Bulls have plenty to think about with the NBA trade deadline looming
Will the Bulls find value on the trade market for Bobby Portis? Are they actually going to trade for a veteran point guard? Are the Bulls just going to stand pat? NBA Trade Deadline week is here!
Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys split the episode between breaking down the weekend’s action against the Charlotte Hornets and kicking off all the rumors flying around leading up to this week’s NBA Trade Deadline.
Bobby Portis for a second consecutive game put on a show for the Chicago Bulls, have we finally turned a corner on seeing a completely healthy and confident Portis from a year ago? Or is Portis’ string of two games simply a mirage mixed with middling Eastern Conference teams and lack of Bulls offense? The guys discuss his monster first half and how the Bulls lack of adjustments in the second half led to another loss late in the fourth quarter.
The Charlotte Hornets scored 74 points in the second half and outscored the Bulls from the three-point line 33-to-9 to fight their way to a win. The guys discuss how the Bulls had one of their best performances getting to the free throw line this season but the Hornets were matching every move made. Locked On Bulls talks about the real concern about Jim Boylen’s philosophy against shooting threes and the Bulls lack of three-point shooting talent.
As the NBA Trade Deadline approaches on Thursday (3 p.m. E.T.), Locked On Bulls begins some of their discussions about possible trade scenarios the Bulls might be involved in. The guys highlight the small, but laughable cash considerations move they made on Friday which included a salary dump from Oklahoma City. The guys discuss what Bobby Portis’ value is on the trade market, whether or not the Bulls will seriously consider dealing him, and where he fits best. The guys also circle back to the Bulls interest last week in Ricky Rubio and how there are too many layers to make it all fit right for the Bulls to nab him. All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.
Send the guys your Bulls Trade Deadline deals at (331)-979-1369 or on Twitter @LockedOnBulls.
- What will year two bring for Wendell Carter Jr.? April 3, 2019
- Bulls inch closer to a pivotal off-season, who will stick around? April 1, 2019
- Bulls crawling to the finish line as injuries, losses pile up March 27, 2019
- How does Zach LaVine compare to other Most Improved Player candidates? March 26, 2019
- Bulls fall flat in loss to the Jazz and March Madness recap March 25, 2019
What will year two bring for Wendell Carter Jr.?
On today's Locked On Bulls podcast, one of their conversations centered around Wendell Carter Jr.'s second year with the Bulls....
Bulls inch closer to a pivotal off-season, who will stick around?
Locked On Bulls is back from the weekend and the guys have a handful of conversations that surround the off-season...
Bulls crawling to the finish line as injuries, losses pile up
Locked On Bulls Podcast recaps last night's loss to the Toronto Raptors, talks about Lauri Markkanen leaving the game in...
How does Zach LaVine compare to other Most Improved Player candidates?
Returning in his first full season since ACL surgery, Zach LaVine has put together an impressive season for the Bulls....
Bulls fall flat in loss to the Jazz and March Madness recap
Locked On Bulls podcast recaps an ugly loss to the Utah Jazz, highlights some of the best performances from NBA...