Perhaps no top NBA player has been treated with as much disrespect as the Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine over the last two seasons.
The two-time NBA Slam Dunk champion is undoubtedly one of the most talented players in the league, yet he’s often overlooked in any meaningful basketball conversations.
Last season, LaVine was one of just 10 players who averaged at least 23 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. The 25-year-old is in impressive company and he’s been playing like he deserves to be mentioned among current greats. Of the other nine players, only four haven’t won MVP awards, with LeBron James, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry all claiming the accolade at different points. The others, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal, and Blake Griffin, have all been All-Stars on multiple occasions.
Judging from stats alone, LaVine deserves much more recognition than he gets. Yet the fact remains that he’s playing for a team which doesn’t exactly have that great a reputation nowadays and haven’t made the playoffs since 2017.
Even with Team USA fielding its the weakest team in its history, LaVine still did not get invited in time to take part in the recent FIBA World Cup. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Sports Illustrated ranked him at No.90 when they named their top 100 NBA players heading into next season earlier this month.
The 24-year-old should be pretty upset right now, but he understands more than most that nothing else counts if you aren’t winning – not necessarily titles but a respectable number of games every season.
The Bulls finished 13th in the Eastern Conference last season, winning just 22 games to register a .268 winning percentage. From an individual standpoint, LaVine has notched the lowest winning percentage of any first-round pick from his 2014 draft class at .305.
“The main thing I learned is you’ll have individual accolades, but everything comes from winning,” LaVine said, via The Athletic. “I think I put together a really, really good year, especially for my position as a guard. But I didn’t get the accolades that I wanted as an All-Star or All-NBA or things like that. You’re not on a winning basketball team, and those things come from that. So I think you have to put winning first.”
Next season could potentially be a good one for the Bulls, who have the likes of Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr., Tomas Satoransky and Wendell Carter Jr. to complement LaVine.
Bet365 has them at 33/10 to make the playoffs and 20/29 to win over 31.5 games during the regular season. Fans could also take advantage of free live sports streaming with bets throughout the season.
The Bulls will kick the 2019/20 campaign off with a road game against the Charlotte Hornets. Betfair has them down to win at 17/20 while the hosts are 1/1 with Paddy Power. William Hill’s offering odds of 100/1 on Chicago winning the Central Division but the Milwaukee Bucks are favored at 1/12.
The Bucks are also favorites to win the Eastern Conference at 13/10 with Ladbrokes while the Bulls are at 90/1 with Unibet.
The Los Angeles Clippers are the bookmakers’ favorites for the NBA championship and Coral has 3/1 odds on them beating all chasers.
“We don’t want to be in a position to where we’re playing meaningless games,” LaVine added. “I haven’t played in a meaningful game in five years in my career. So I think it’s getting to the point where you really want to start looking past self things and moving toward wanting to win basketball games. It’s not fun to go home in April.“