Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine is the point guard of the future

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 6: Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 6, 2019 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 6: Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 6, 2019 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. /

With most eyes directed towards the draft and free agency to solve the Chicago Bulls point guard problem, were we looking in the wrong place all along?

At some point, the Chicago Bulls must come to grips with the grim reality of their draft lottery odds this coming summer. Although they would likely love to add the likes of electric point guard out of Murray State– Ja Morant– the odds just aren’t in their favor. As it currently stands, the Bulls only possess an 11.2 percent chance of nabbing the second pick (presumably after Zion Williamson goes No. 1 overall).

It’s time to consider the possibility that Chicago won’t find the answer to their point guard problems in the upcoming draft. While free agency poses many interesting temporary solutions, such as pending free agents Ricky Rubio and Darren Collison, perhaps the team turns inwards to find a more permanent answer. The best option may already be on the court.

I present to you resident combo guard Zach LaVine.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking, “How’s a guy that’s known for averaging low assist and high turnover outings ever going to become a primary ball handler in the league?” The simple answer being, he’s still just a 23-year old and already displaying signs of rapid improvement. Let’s look at his playmaking stats by month:

  • October: 3.6 assists, 4 turnovers, usage 34.3%
  • November: 5.5 assists, 3.8 turnovers, usage 31.9%
  • December: 3.9 assists, 3.3 turnovers, usage 28.3%
  • January: 3.4 assists, 2.9 turnovers, usage 30.1%
  • February: 6 assists, 2.3 turnovers, usage 26.4%

LaVine has had a number of factors working against him that date back to even before this season: an extensive injury history, an embarrassing lack of talent on the roster, and most notably a difficulty demonstrating positive chemistry next to fellow ball-dominant teammate Kris Dunn.

Fortunately, this season has witnessed big leaps in the aforementioned issues, since Zach is on pace to play more games than the last two seasons combined, Otto Porter Jr’s entrance proving to bolster the starting lineup, with Dunn seemingly relegated to second-option status.

As LaVine overcomes the obstacles in his path, he has continually elevated his game. Zach’s playmaking and awareness abilities have clearly been improving as the months pass by; his assists have shot up while turnovers steadily decline. Most impressively, he is learning how to get his teammates involved and still be effective on the floor, indicated by the major 7.9 percent drop in his usage percentage.

According to Tankathon’s Big Board, just one of the top eleven prospects play point guard. Therefore, it’s very likely that Chicago doesn’t get to see their promised ‘point guard of the future’ don a Bulls cap on draft night.

If the Chicago Bulls land a top five pick in the lottery, they will have the opportunity to draft a talented wing and potentially fill out a versatile starting lineup of long, athletic playmakers. This strategy has proven very effective for teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.

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Of course, this elaborate plan hinges on the successful development of LaVine. Keep a careful eye out for Zach’s improved vision and passing ability as the Chicago Bulls embark on the last leg of the 2018-2019 season.