High-flying guard Zach LaVine believes Bulls ‘could be something special’
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Zach LaVine has put all his chips on the table.
“We’re going to be good,’’ LaVine said confidently. “We are. Not just saying that, either. You can’t let opportunity knock on the door and not open the door — that’s a quote from my dad by the way — but that’s the way I look at it. We could be something very special.’’
False bravado from the Bulls guard? Maybe, especially considering a lot of the good feelings from this season are basically based on a six-week showing from early December through mid-January.
And it is not like LaVine is alone, either.
Coach Fred Hoiberg has often pointed to that six-week sample size as a preview of what could be for this Bulls’ roster, and so have LaVine’s teammates.
From Dec. 8 until Kris Dunn suffered a concussion, which sidelined him for almost five weeks, in a Jan. 17 loss to the Warriors, the Bulls posted an impressive 14-8 record. That included wins over the Heat, Pacers, Bucks, Sixers, Jazz and Celtics.
A closer look, however, and maybe that glass wasn’t exactly half-full.
The Celtics were without Kyrie Irving, the Sixers didn’t have Joel Embiid and the Bucks were struggling with soon-to-be-fired coach Jason Kidd.
But what seems to be overlooked was that the Bulls had a hot-shooting Nikola Mirotic on the roster during that run. Heck, LaVine wasn’t really even a factor throughout most of that winning span after just getting back from his left knee rehab and being on a serious minutes restriction.
LaVine, however, wasn’t about to let that derail his optimism.
“I think individually what’s shown is that we’ve all had really strong points, so what would be the reason that when we did play together make it fool’s gold?’’ LaVine said. “We’re still getting used to everybody and there were some inconsistencies with guys not being there. There were some ups and downs . . . we had a really wacky season.
“All of that somehow plays a factor, but regardless, I don’t take that as fool’s gold or anything that people might say, because at the end of the day we’re going to make it work. We’re going to make sure it happens, because we’re all competitive as individuals and have team goals. Me personally, I know how big this progression is and the position we’re in, the opportunity we’re getting.’’
While Hoiberg has put a lot of stock in those six weeks of good Bulls basketball, he also has stressed numerous times how important this summer will be, especially for Dunn, LaVine and Lauri Markkanen in continuing to build their chemistry.
All three players have relayed to him that the organization will get that this offseason, and Hoiberg’s holding them to that.
“We also played some good teams and had some good wins in that stretch as well,’’ Hoiberg said about the devil’s-advocate scenario. “With a full summer with our guys, and Lauri having a summer where he can concentrate on his body and now that he’s been in the league for a year the positive strides he will make at that position . . . I think you can take from that stretch that [there] are positives.
“It’s going to take work. You can’t just say we played great for six weeks of the season and that is going to carry over to next year. It’s going to take a lot of work to get back to that point and hopefully build on some of those things we were doing.’’