In a recent interview with ESPN, Zach LaVine expressed his confidence in himself and his desire of representing the Bulls in the All- Star game this upcoming season. With the All-Star game coming to Chicago this year, now is as good of a time as any.
The Bulls haven’t had an All-Star since the ’16-’17 NBA season when Jimmy G Buckets got the nod, but with recent 20-win seasons, it feels like it’s been a decade. (Shout out Lauri being selected for the Skills Challenge and Rising Stars games the past two years though). Some would say that LaVine got snubbed last year. I mean, an argument can definitely be made that Kyle Lowry and Khris Middleton didn’t “deserve” to be there over him. Before the All-Star break, Zach was averaging 23.0 pts, 4.5 reb, 4.4 asts, and nearly a steal per game (all of which were even higher by the end of the season, so it wasn’t just a hot start). If he were on a different team, he may have been looked at differently, and he realizes that:
“Everything comes with winning. I feel like if we win and we’re in the right positions, the sky is the limit for me,” LaVine told ESPN following Thursday’s practice. “I had an All-Star-caliber year last year, but we had 22 wins so it got a little bit swept under the rug. But that’s how it’s supposed to be when you have 20 wins. But if I continue to play the way I’m supposed to, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be an All-Star or All-NBA type guy.”ESPN
This tells me Zach realizes that although he wants to prove himself as an All-Star caliber player on an individual level, he’s going to need to make his team better along the way. This also brings me back to Middleton and Lowry making the All-Star game over him: Two very good players, on even better teams. Who found themselves in the All-Star game. One of which was hoisting the Larry O’Brien at the end of last season.
LaVine is no stranger to All-Star weekend having participated in, and winning, back to back Dunk Contests in 2015 and 2016. The show that he and Aaron Gordon put on in 2016 was probably the best we’ve seen since Vince Carter took on T-Mac and Stevie Franchise back in 2000. No gimmicks, no cars, no candles, just straight dunks.
One thing that is forgotten about in that year’s dunk contest was the limited amounts of retries each guy had. It didn’t take them 12 tries to nail a dunk like a lot of people these days. In case you forgot how it went down:
I’m all for Zach doing another one, especially in Chicago, and it seems like he’s open to the idea as well if it’s the right situation.
“I expect to be there through the whole weekend, and if my legs are right, obviously I would love to [compete in the dunk contest], but I’ve got to make sure what’s best for me and the team,” LaVine said. “I’ve been on that stage before, but I haven’t been on the Sunday night one, so I expect to be there and I expect us to move forward.”ESPN
It wouldn’t be a good look for the Bulls to not have representation with the All-Star weekend’s events taking place at the UC. I’d take him getting to participate in the Dunk Contest, but that part of the weekend is just to highlight freak dunks. The All-Star game itself means you’re a top player in the league and that’s what the Bulls need. Not a guy who’s just a top dunker, something he has proven already…twice.
Zach posted career highs in FG%, REB, AST, STL, BLK, and PTS last year while dealing with some on and off injuries, limiting him to 63 games. If he can stay healthy, and take another jump to the next level, Zach’s dream may become a reality.