Bulls guard Zach LaVine will return to action on Thursday after missing the team’s last 11 games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). LaVine had cleared the protocols this week and was targeting Thursday’s game in Charlotte for his return.
Following LaVine’s most recent appearance on April 14, Chicago was clinging to the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference at 22-32. Since then, however, the red-hot Wizards have surpassed the Bulls, as have the up-and-down Raptors. Having lost seven of 11 games without LaVine, Chicago is now in 12th place, a full four games back of the No. 10 Wizards.
In other words, with just seven games left in the Bulls’ season, LaVine’s return will probably come too late to make a real impact on the team’s playoff hopes — especially if it takes him some time to get back up to full speed following what was reportedly a case of COVID-19.
Still, the 26-year-old will be looking to finish strong as he concludes the best season of his seven-year career. An All-Star for the first time in 2021, LaVine is averaging career-high marks in points per game (27.5), assists per game (5.1), and rebounds per game (5.1), with a career-best .506/.416/.848 shooting line in 53 games (35.2 MPG).