As you may recall, we recently published an article covering the worst starters of the Derrick Rose era. While that may have been an uncomfortable trip to the past, I was more shocked to see Zach LaVine is set to embark on his seventh season with the Chicago Bulls, the same amount Rose played for his hometown team. Rose played 406 games for Chicago, with LaVine creeping up to that number with 349 under his belt.
Although the Bulls haven’t been quite as successful as of late, Zach is still deserving of his own era. He has undoubtedly been the face of this franchise through an extremely rough patch sticking through thick and thin, poor rosters, and inept coaching staffs.
Unfortunately, Chicago has been unable to repay LaVine’s loyalty thus far, surrounding him with inadequate teams that have posted a 188-277 record since the Bulls traded for him in 2017. This ranks as the third-worst winning percentage of any franchise since then, ahead of only the Rockets and Pistons. While there’s certainly room for LaVine to improve as a leader, a large part of this blame has to be placed on the inadequate starting lineups Zach has played for.
With that in mind, it got me thinking, who exactly are the worst players Zach LaVine has been forced to play alongside? With these wounds still fresh, it shouldn’t be nearly as difficult to compile a proper ranking here. Once again, a player must have started at least 21 games in a season (25% of a season) to qualify for this list. That means a few of the most particularly egregious errors from the front office will be spared from this list (looking at you, Cristiano Felicio).
Ranking the 9 worst Chicago Bulls starters of the Zach LaVine era
9. Robin Lopez
Looking back on the early stages of the Bulls’ rebuild in the late 2010s, I can confidently say that Robin Lopez was one of a select few players I still hold a fondness for. His off-the-court antics and long-standing feud with opposing mascots breathed life into what was otherwise three extremely joyless seasons of Chicago Bulls basketball.
Lopez wasn’t quite such a difference-maker in actual games, however, averaging just 10.5 points and 5 rebounds per game as a 7-foot starting center. Considering Robin was the main piece coming back in the trade that sent Derrick Rose to New York, the fans had obviously hoped he’d be a more impactful player.
Lopez started 181 games in three seasons with the Bulls, and although he’s managed to maintain steady work in the league, has only started 25 games in the four years since. Lopez has been a very good role player in his 15-year career, but it’s only become increasingly obvious in time that he never should have held the starting gig in Chicago.