Bulls teammates understand Zach LaVine’s star power, even if fans don’t

LaVine might be fifth among guards in fan voting for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, but his teammates think his time is coming sooner than later.

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Zach LaVine

Fan voting for All-Star Games usually ends with questionable results.

Bulls guard Zach LaVine is being reminded of that again.

With the polls closing Tuesday, LaVine finds himself fifth among Eastern Conference guards — and not by a small margin. The Wizards’ Bradley Beal is first with 2.5 million votes, followed by the Nets’ Kyrie Irving with 2.1 million, the Nets’ James Harden with 1.8 million and the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown with 1.06 million. LaVine has 936,309 votes.

A head-scratcher? Absolutely, considering all the games Irving has missed and the idea that Brown is listed as a guard.

But while the fans seemingly have missed the mark again, LaVine’s teammates continued propping him up Friday, whether he makes his first All-Star Game or not.

Few have been bigger supporters than well-traveled guard Garrett Temple, who raved about LaVine early in the season and predicted a big things to come.

Reminded of that before the Bulls’ game against the Clippers, Temple doubled down.

‘‘It’s exactly what I expected,’’ Temple said of LaVine. ‘‘The numbers he’s putting up right now are amazing, so it’s just a matter of us winning games and him leading us to wins to take him to that superstar level. . . .

‘‘He has all the tools, and he’s doing an amazing job scoring efficiently, setting other people up, taking what comes to him. If we could just cut down turnovers — him personally, but us as a team in general — I think that will help us, also.’’

So what did Temple see from LaVine in December that had him feeling that way?

‘‘It wasn’t even the first impression as a teammate,’’ Temple said. ‘‘It was the first impression as a competitor and just knowing coaches that have coached him, that have been around him since he was young, since he was a rookie in Minnesota. And then playing against him, seeing what he could do on the court and seeing how dynamic he was last year. And then early on seeing his ability to score, his ability to finish.

‘‘I think the competitive spirit was something I saw once I got on the team with him that I didn’t know if he had it or not. Once I saw he did have that, I knew the sky is the limit.’’

Coach Billy Donovan said he has had conversations with LaVine about the All-Star Game and thinks he has the right perspective on it.

‘‘I think he understands at this point in his career that individual accolades come when the team does really well,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I think if it happens, it would be great for him to be recognized as an All-Star; it’s an incredible honor. But I don’t think it’s the driving force for him.’’

Center of attention

While the injury timetable for center Wendell Carter Jr. (bruised right quadriceps) still isn’t detailed, it sounds as though there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

‘‘He’s doing really well,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘He’s recovering well. He’s been doing some running. He’s been able to get some work on the court, which has been good, so I think every day they are just trying to see how he responds to that in terms of soreness or any setbacks.

‘‘I don’t have a timeline on it, but all I can say is he’s really moving in the right direction.’’

Carter last played Jan. 18.

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