Make no mistake, Zach LaVine prides himself on his leadership
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Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen admits he is a reluctant leader at times, picking his spots to be vocal or to push teammates.
The Bulls’ blowout loss Saturday to the Jazz was one of those moments in which Markkanen thought he needed to step up in that way. Coach Jim Boylen said it was the most vocal Markkanen has been in a game.
‘‘I felt like it’s something I’m trying to focus on, and we were short a few guys, so I felt like I needed to step up and allow myself to do that,’’ Markkanen said.
It was an easy decision with guard Zach LaVine and forward Otto Porter Jr. sidelined with bumps and bruises.
‘‘It was good to see that from him,’’ Boylen said of Markkanen.
Come summer, however, it’s obvious where the leadership responsibility will fall. LaVine hasn’t been shy about that.
The last two Julys, LaVine has shown up to the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas to welcome the new Bulls to the roster, as well as to get in a few practices with his younger teammates. It was also LaVine who had several teammates, including guard Kris Dunn, come to Los Angeles last summer to work out with him.
‘‘[Former teammate] Kevin Garnett came out to Summer League,’’ LaVine said of his rookie days with the Timberwolves. ‘‘[A player like that] doesn’t need to do that. I’m not saying I’m Kevin Garnett, either. But I want to be that type of leader on a team who always supports your young guys.’’
With Porter joining the roster just last month and rookies Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison getting in only 44 games before being idled by injuries, there are still more questions than answers about this core moving forward.
That’s why LaVine again will be the point man for getting the team together as often as possible this summer, whether it’s in Los Angeles or Seattle (another place he trains) or guys getting some time together at the Advocate Center.
‘‘If you’re friends on the court and off the court, that builds chemistry,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘I know everyone has their own summer plans and bases. I know I do, as well. There’s always time to fit in some time to go and try to build some more chemistry with your teammates.’’
LaVine admitted he still isn’t 100 percent sure what the Bulls have exactly.
‘‘It’s in the air,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘I don’t think we’ve been consistent enough as a group. Each of us still has to prove who we are. I think you get a gist of what everyone brings to the table. We just have to be more consistent and be better as an overall group to move forward. . . . We want to be competing to play in meaningful games.’’
That starts with LaVine, who has made strides by putting up All Star-type numbers by averaging a career-best 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Still, he knows he has more to add to his game.
‘‘A little bit more in the mid-post area,’’ LaVine said of what’s on his summer-improvement agenda.