Now that the Chicago Bulls 2022-23 season is officially in the books, I think it’s worth taking the time to review just how every member of the roster performed this season. The Bulls’ front office will no doubt be joining me in their own version of this exercise this summer, as they have several difficult roster decisions to settle on. For our own sake here, who better to start with than Zach LaVine, the face of the franchise himself?
Averaging 24.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game, LaVine once again submitted an excellent performance this season, even if it wasn’t enough to get this team over the hump. LaVine not only surpassed Derrick Rose to break into the top-10 all-time scoring leaders in Chicago Bulls history, but he also put Kirk Hinrich and Reggie Theus in the rear-view mirror to move up to 8th all-time this season.
Zach LaVine has already become a key figure in Chicago Bulls history, and he’s coming off one of his best performances with the team yet. Let’s review just how his 2022-23 campaign graded out.
After signing a max extension over the summer, did Zach LaVine’s 2022-23 season performance live up to the Chicago Bulls’ expectations?
As they say, availability is the best ability, and LaVine excelled in that regard this season. The shooting guard participated in 79 of 84 Bulls games this season (counting the play-in tournament) and logged by far the most minutes of his career, averaging 35.9 minutes per game played.
This was a massive step in the right direction for Zach, as injuries have beleaguered his career up to this point and kept him out during some pretty pivotal stretches for his teams over the years. Now, whether or not we should be concerned over the fact Chicago took a massive step in the wrong direction this season despite LaVine’s good health is an unfortunate but fair question.
Ultimately, I’m liable to place the blame on other factors surrounding this current roster. LaVine was incredible down the stretch, and his career-high 7.1 win shares support that belief. As long as Zach is healthy, the Bulls have a fighting chance, and that’s good enough for me.
Although LaVine’s three-point attempts per game and three-point percentage were the lowest they’ve been over the last four years, shooting 37.5% on 7.1 attempts per game is a pretty insane floor we’re dealing with here. Particularly when you factor in a lingering knee injury and midseason ailment that affected Zach’s shot.
Following the All-Star Break, LaVine was allowed to slide back to being primarily a score-first option, leaving the playmaking to Patrick Beverley, Alex Caruso, and DeMar DeRozan. Over those final 22 games, LaVine’s three-point percentage rocketed up to 39.4% (and stood at 41.9% before Chicago’s final three games when the team no longer had anything to play for in the standings).
This was also the third consecutive season LaVine has posted a true shooting percentage in excess of 60%, indicating he has without a doubt become one of the league’s most consistent and dependable offensive threats.
After the conclusion of this season, Zach can confidently put to rest any doubts that his contract would be a bust, as he’s now undeniably a fringe top-25 player in this league. With the way the league’s cap rules are progressing, paying the max for an elite second-option player is well worth the price tag, his skill set is simply irreplaceable.
That being said, that is what he is. An elite second option. Trying to pair him with another second option in DeRozan clearly hasn’t worked out as intended, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Bulls attempt to pivot in another direction next season. While the team may have not lived up to expectations this year, I can’t fault LaVine for their struggles. I’m pleased with how he played this season and I’m excited to see him back out there on the court for Chicago again next year.