Thad Young and Zach LaVine go back to 2014. Subsequently, that year, the 19-year-old Zach LaVine was drafted 13th by the Timberwolves. A couple of months later, Young was traded to Minnesota ahead of his eighth season in the league.
Young became a mentor to Zach LaVine five years later. Besides, they became teammates again in Chicago.
Moreover, the two have enjoyed playing together for the past two seasons.
Zach LaVine conveys, “Young is the best teammate I have ever had.” That connection has allowed Young to be both Zach LaVine’s biggest fan and an honest critic.
Before the start of this season, Young conveys, “he approached LaVine and relayed his hopes for the team, as well as his expectations for him.”
Young explained, “if the Bulls were to have any hope of being relevant, and if LaVine wanted to be named an All-Star for the first time, the 25-year-old would need to make another leap and become a two-way player.”
Just a few more months and everyone would see that Zach LaVine is doing his best to fulfill that mandate.
Zach LaVine and the Game
Taking the final three minutes of the Bulls’ 105-102 win over the Pistons on Wednesday. With just over 2:30 left in the game, LaVine took over. Further, he stepped back and made a James Harden.
Furthermore, after Detroit trapped Zach LaVine, he played well and sealed the game. LaVine finished with 37 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
Young had seen enough from LaVine to campaign for that All-Star spot they talked about. Wednesday’s performance only confirmed that “Zach has been amazing all season. He is an All-Star.”
The Bulls are now scratching at the type of relevance Young wished for before the season. Their 12-15 record is only half a game out of the eight-seed in the East. Besides, how the past two seasons have passed, Chicago is already halfway to that win total. And what about Zach LaVine? He is averaging a career-high 28.5 points a game. He is not only the engine for Bull’s success, but he is also on the brink of becoming what Young conveyed: an All-Star.
Zach LaVine is scoring this season with the same ease that he had in dunk contests. Besides, he is scoring at a rate that only Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Larry Bird have done before. He is a high flier. But now this is just a footnote to the rest of his game. This year has been different.
Billy Donovan conveys Zach wants to be a winning player
Bulls head coach Billy Donovan conveyed, “Zach is working.… He wants to be a winning player after Monday’s120-112 win over the Pacers. He knows that maybe throughout his career, he hasn’t had that opportunity. Zach wants to learn and get better. LaVine is a real willing mover and cutter, he knows he needs to get better defensively, he knows if he wants to be a leader he’s got to be accountable to bringing it all the time.”
It is clear LaVine still has room for improvement, especially on the defensive end. Hanlen thinks LaVine can retool the same athleticism he shows on offense into his defensive effort.
Donovan conveys, “I think he is finding out how hard it is to be a two-way player. He is doing so much offensively. I told him the great players in the league, they play both ends of the floor. You cannot just be a one-way player. And I think he is trying to do that now.”
Even for those who know everything about Zach LaVine’s development, there is not one moment when he showed them his capability of becoming an All-Star.
Moreover, Hanlen conveys, “I knew immediately after working with LaVine for the first time that he has All-Star potential.”
Young has seen his potential and growth since he coached the rookie in Minnesota. But it was not until this year that it all coalesced. White has seen it for two seasons now. Donovan has seen it for only one season.
The way LaVine is playing and talking about his performances, it feels like this is what he exactly wanted from himself. Thus, this will be the season where others will also get to know about him being an All-Star.