Priorities have changed for Bulls guard Zach LaVine this season
LaVine certainly will get his All-Star phone call Thursday, when the reserves are announced, but his main focus is contending for a title.
Bulls guard Zach LaVine knows the call is coming.
But it will be made a week later than it should be.
The starters for the All-Star Game were announced Thursday, and LaVine just missed out on a backcourt spot, finishing behind teammate DeMar DeRozan and the Hawks’ Trae Young.
LaVine was second in the player vote, but the media and fans had him third, and the fan vote carried the most weight.
He was more than at peace with the results but was hoping for some clarity on the “narrative.’’
Last season, LaVine missed out on a starting spot even though his numbers were as good as anyone’s. He was told that being on a losing team hurt his chances.
His numbers are down a bit this season, but the Bulls were in first during most of the voting process, while Young’s Hawks have been on the fringes of a playoff spot, languishing in play-in territory.
“I’ve done that the last couple of years, won the players’ vote,’’ LaVine said after the loss to the Spurs on Friday.
“It’s you [media] guys that don’t like me. Nah, I’m just messing around. I’m very happy for DeMar; I’m happy for Trae. You know, obviously, Trae is very deserving. I felt like I was just as deserving, but every year, there’s going to be somebody in and out. I just wish the criteria would stay the same each year.
“Last year, I had a really good year with really good stats, but we were on a losing team. I wasn’t in that same position [this season] or the narrative wasn’t the same, but it is what it is. I’ll keep my head down, keep on working. I think I’m going to be an All-Star. Either way, we’re going to enjoy the weekend.’’
LaVine will find out Thursday, when the complete All-Star rosters will be announced.
In explaining his feelings about the NBA’s showcase weekend, LaVine revealed where his mindset currently resides.
In the past, he would’ve been more upset about not being considered a member of the NBA’s elite. But in midsentence, he pivoted back to his top priority.
“But back to this. This isn’t a good feeling, to come out to San Antonio and give up 130 points,’’ LaVine said. “This season, yeah, you definitely see me a lot more dejected [after losses].’’
It’s because LaVine knows this team can do something special this season — not next season or in some mythical window that outsiders like to create.
But the defensive effort has to be better than it was against the Spurs. With Lonzo Ball (knee surgery) and Alex Caruso (wrist surgery) out six to eight weeks, every healthy Bull has to step up or deal with the consequences of a promising season lost.
“Obviously, you’re not going to replace those guys; that’s what they do,’’ LaVine said. “AC is known for that; Zo is known for that. We’re not going to step in and be as good as them, but as a team and collectively, we’ve got to fill those gaps in and still hold on. We just can’t get exploited and give up 130 points.
‘‘I don’t care what extra we have to do; I’m for it. We all have to give more effort and understand the moment of what we’re trying to do this year because this isn’t cutting it.’’