LaVine had appeared in 230 games through his first four seasons.
A torn ACL in 2017 had caused him to miss 72 straight games between 2017 and 2018 – the two years leading up to his restricted free agency.
He had averaged 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game to that point.
His shooting splits were good, but nothing exceptional – 43.7% from the field and 37.3% from deep on 4.0 attempts per game.
Needless to say, LaVine has outperformed that contract over the last four years.
Five players are averaging 27 points on 50-40-85 shooting this season: Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, Zach LaVine, Nikola Jokic and Kyrie Irving.
Entering this season, there had been 5 instances TOTAL of a player doing that in a season. pic.twitter.com/chZ92arxzQ
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 6, 2021
The Bulls star has averaged 25.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game while making two All-Star teams.
He is shooting 47.4% from the field on high volume and 39.2% from deep on a healthy 7.1 attempts per game.
The two-time Dunk Contest champion has earned the payday coming his way.
LaVine The Elite Offensive Talent
LaVine’s calling card is on the offensive end.
He is a lead guard who can carry the scoring load for offenses single-handedly.
LaVine is one of the smoothest players in the game, effortlessly flowing to his spots on the court and gliding to the rim for vicious finishes.
Zach LaVine: Poetry in Motion. pic.twitter.com/T1TtO6aZd3
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) June 8, 2022
The UCLA product has steadily improved his game year after year.
Across three seasons in Minnesota, he had a usage rate of 22.5% with a true shooting percentage of 54.7%.
Since joining the Bulls, his usage rate has jumped up to 30.4% across five seasons.
Even with the higher responsibility to carry the offense, his efficiency has not suffered.
His true shooting percentage has increased to 58.8%.
That includes the past two seasons cracking 60%.
And one can no longer make the argument his stats are empty.
Chicago was one of the worst teams in the league during the first three years of LaVine’s deal.
But his supporting cast was not providing much help.
The front office has brought in pieces over the past two years to surround LaVine.
Nikola Vucevic was acquired at the trade deadline last season.
LaVine’s counting stats took a hit, but the wins started to pile up.
The Bulls went 46-36, making the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
2021-22 proved LaVine is an offensive talent who can also contribute to winning.
Showing Improvement Defensively
LaVine was a member of Team USA Basketball that won gold at the last Olympics.
On a team that featured other elite offensive talents, LaVine realized he would need to contribute in other areas.
Before the Olympics, the Bulls star said, “I’m going to bring a lot of energy defensively, I’m going to pick up full-court, I’m going to really try and do that stuff”.
This past season and the Olympics provided glimpses that LaVine still has room to grow defensively.
Zach LaVine should be an All-Star. His scoring is elite. His passing and defense have improved. Outdated perceptions of him must change.
On LaVine’s All-Star case: https://t.co/dH4rnDv1MM
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) February 23, 2021
His on-ball defense was better, and his off-ball help was disruptive to opposing teams at times.
At 6-foot-5, 200 pounds with off-the-charts athleticism, LaVine has the tools to be a plus on the defensive end.
While he will probably never be a DPOY or All-Defensive Team member, there is evidence he will not be the human traffic cone he once was.
LaVine has grown on the less glamorous end and is another reason why he is the apple of numerous franchises’ eye this offseason.