Zach LaVine’s Progress Can Shorten The Chicago Bulls Rebuild [Opinion]

The Chicago Bulls held a press conference introducing their three new players. Zach LaVine, who is perhaps the most important of the new Chicago Bulls handled himself well. LaVine’s development could determine how long the Chicago Bulls’ rebuild will take.

Zach LaVine comes to the Chicago Bulls through a trade (courtesy of the New York Times) with the Minnesota Timberwolves. LaVine and guard Kris Dunn are who the Bulls received in the draft day deal involving Jimmy Butler.

Most NBA observers consider the trade between the Bulls and Timberwolves as one-sided as they come. It will be hard to judge the swap until Zach LaVine can return to an NBA practice court. In the meantime, he will at least be able to do some light workouts and conditioning drills with his new Bulls’ teammates.

It is suffice to say that the Chicago Bulls will be relying on Zach LaVine to help lead the team past the rebuilding phase. Further development is necessary for LaVine to reach his full potential. He has a ways to go on defense, but the tools are present. Patience is also needed.

In order for the Chicago Bulls to have a smooth process for the next couple seasons Zach LaVine first has to get healthy. The fourth-year shooting guard tore his ACL (courtesy of NBA.com) during a game in February.

Zach LaVine and Jimmy Butler scramble for a loose ball.

Before suffering a torn ACL Zach LaVine was playing well. He averaged 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists prior to getting hurt. Those numbers came with him being the third option in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ offense. Once LaVine is cleared to return he will immediately be inserted as the Bulls’ go-to scorer.

While he did not admit to being happy about having the featured role on the Bulls, LaVine could not mask his excitement (courtesy of bulls.com) when he met with the Chicago media.

“It’s a great opportunity and humbling and satisfying to be here in these colors and this city. I’m going to be safe (about recovery). That’s the main thing, always being safe. I always have to take care of myself and this franchise, as well. I’m going to do everything I can physically to get back. I’m the type of person that’s going to work my butt off to get there as fast as possible. I’m going to be ready when I am there.”

Zach LaVine displayed the attitude sought by the Chicago Bulls’ staff. He sounded gritty, tough, and more than willing to work during the Bulls’ press conference.

The way Zach LaVine was with the Chicago media is what the Bulls are hoping to see on the hardwood. If he can overcome his injury LaVine can become a star. He comes to the Chicago Bulls with a higher ceiling than Jimmy Butler, whom the Bulls traded him for.

LaVine is a dunker, with an evolving jump shot. His combination of athleticism and range is uncommon in this era of the NBA. Unfortunately, he comes to the Chicago Bulls with two strikes against him.

One issue is his knee injury. Fans of the Chicago Bulls cringed when Zach LaVine was announced in the Bulls trade with the Timberwolves. It has less to do with his ability and more to do with bad memories.

Those visions include watching the talent of point guard Derrick Rose run down the basketball court with reckless abandonment. Just when Rose won over the hearts of NBA fans everywhere, he tore his ACL and was never the same.

The Chicago Bulls would have never been able to acquire Zach LaVine were he injury-free. While it is unfair to place a label on him, the term damaged goods has been thrown out there a few times.

The other knock on Zach LaVine is also no fault of his own — obscurity will follow him until he can prove himself worthy.

A player can get lost starting for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Zach LaVine is a household name because of his NBA slam dunk title, few know what he can do beyond that.

The Chicago Bulls presents a much larger market and stage. But in the wake of a full rebuild some cover is developed. There are zero expectations when it comes to the Bulls, with the exception of failure. Zach LaVine has a chance to change that.

No longer in LaVine’s way are Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, who were the Timberwolves’ more herald players. LaVine’s banishment to the Chicago Bulls could do for him what the move to the Houston Rockets did for James Harden — generate an emancipation.

A liberated Zach LaVine on the Chicago Bulls could go farther than Jimmy Butler could take the team. If he can reach his potential, the Bulls’ rebuild will go faster than originally projected.

[Featured Image by Elsa/Getty Images]