After an 11-month absence, Zach LaVine made his Bulls debut Saturday night. Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago writes that the solid showing serves as an excellent first step for the player who remains the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade.
LaVine put up what seemed like an effortless 14 points in just 19 minutes of action in his first game of the year, but it’s his general playing style that will make Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg‘s life easier as the young team looks to develop into a winner.
“He’s such a smooth player and has a lot of confidence,” Hoiberg said. “To get out there back on the floor and with his teammates, I thought he played very effective and efficient. He played within himself.”
There’s more out of the Central Division tonight:
- In the same NBC Sports Chicago feature, Goodwill writes that the 22-year-old LaVine has and wants to be considered “the guy.” “I always thought of myself on being able to be ‘the guy.’ And being able to go out there, put the team on your back, city on your back, and I want to work to be that guy,” LaVine said.
- Although the team has thrived since his return, Nikola Mirotic remains intent on leaving the Bulls via trade, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. There is a sense that Mirotic and the team have reached an impasse when it comes to repairing the tension between him and Bobby Portis.
- The return of Zach LaVine has bumped Denzel Valentine to the second-unit. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune notes that the 24-year-old handled the move professionally. Head coach Fred Hoiberg opted to push Valentine to the second unit, instead of Justin Holiday, because he has fared better with the team’s bench players and can be featured more as a playmaker alongside them.