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What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine

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What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#1 » by JimmyJammer » Fri Apr 24, 2020 8:39 pm

Those of you who have been posted on this forum long enough knows that I am a fervent supporter of Zach Lavine. I would defend him at every chance I get, especially when the narrative behind his criticism is flawed and devoid of any palpable evidence. So, I came across this article that puts in perspective what it is Zach Lavine has not been doing right to get him in the company of the best ones in the league. Excerpts are below.

Zach LaVine Might Never Be a True No. 1, But the Bulls Don’t Need Him to Be

April 22, 2020, by Elias Schuster Chicago Bulls

Earlier today, we discussed the latest from The Ringer’s Zach Kram breaking down the top items on the Bulls offseason checklist. In that article, Kram posed several questions facing Arturas Karnisovas and his new-look Bulls front office, including what to do with Jim Boylen, whether a Markkanen-Carter Jr. frontcourt will work, and how the Zach LaVine story will play out.

We’re going to be drilling down on that that third item more substantially right now, but I still encourage you to check out Kram’s full post at The Ringer for the rest. It’s a good one. Okay, let’s go.

While I think the answer to his actual question – Can Zach LaVine be the best player on a strong playoff team? – is a fairly simple “no,” the situation is more complicated than that. Instead of exploring whether or not Zach LaVine can be the best player on a playoff team, we should really be asking In what role can LaVine be a winning player?

I think the best way to approach this is by looking at one of his biggest flaws, so let’s start there (no, not his defense).

LaVine may have the scoring chops and highlight-reel plays to compete with the league’s best talent, but he’s failed to demonstrate one key superstar trait: Making those around him better.

Kram shares Five Thirty-Eight’s advanced player rating stat, which reveals a very concerning, albeit intuitive, reality: LaVine adds only 1.2 points per 100 possessions over a league average player. For context, Trae Young (7.1), Bradley Beal (5.4), Devin Booker (3.5), D’Angelo Russell (3.1), CJ McCollum (2.7), and DeMar DeRozan (2.5) are all players on losing teams this season that – according to this stat – play a bigger role on offense as a whole than LaVine. Ouch.

Indeed, although he might have prior experience at point guard, LaVine isn’t considered a gifted passer or playmaker (depending on your definition). This season, for example, he’s averaged only 4.2 assists per game, which falls just behind last year’s mark (4.5). Making your team better isn’t always about staking-up assists, but it’s certainly something that many of today’s No. 1 options do on a regular basis – they create.

Per Cleaning the Glass, LaVine is only in the 65th percentile when it comes to his assist-to-usage ratio (which basically estimates how pass-first a player is). His season average is a smidge above the position average, but for almost the entire middle of the year, he fell below that mark. Meanwhile, some other No. 1’s on losing teams – like Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, and DeMar DeRozan – are in the 80th percentile or higher.

Now, as we know, assists aren’t everything. Damian Lillard, James Harden, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, and Donovan Mitchell all have a lower AST:USAGE than LaVine. But we can also place each of them one or more tiers higher than LaVine as an overall player. Plus, most have proven they can (1) make the right play at the right time, and (2) average more assists per game than LaVine.

The broader point I’m trying to make here is that LaVine isn’t a true No. 1, even he’s fallen into that role by default with the Bulls. If he can’t even keep up in the “making your team better” categories with other No. 1 scoring guards on losing teams, how can we expect him to lead a competitive squad into the playoffs? We can’t.

Now that’s not entirely his fault. At the end of the day, an organization’s job is to put a player in the best position to succeed, and the Bulls haven’t been doing that when it comes to LaVine’s role. As much as he’s been able to carry this offense and display his skill set, he’s asked to do way too much (I mean, he’s supposed to lead a winning team even though he’s never been on one? … Kind of unfair).

So what does this mean?

Well, it sure DOESN’T mean he can’t still be considered an “elite” scoring guard in the NBA. Think about guys like Kemba Walker, Jamal Murray, and Victor Oladipo, who are key players on their team but not necessarily the lone No. 1. Sure, Walker and Oladipo have proven they can squeeze their team into the playoffs on their own, but it’s hard to currently label any of these three as bonafide No. 1’s . Walker has Tatum. Murray has Jokic. Oladipo has Sabonis and (now) Brogdon. All are either co-No. 1’s or No. 2’s.


https://www.bleachernation.com/bulls/2020/04/22/zach-lavine-might-never-be-a-true-no-1-but-the-bulls-dont-need-him-to-be/
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#2 » by TheSuzerain » Fri Apr 24, 2020 8:48 pm

What has no one coherently explained to you about Lavine?
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#3 » by TheFinishSniper » Fri Apr 24, 2020 8:59 pm

Zach has great opportunity to watch Last Dance to figure out how to become better leader and better player beside putting scoring numbers. To see through what kind of crap did Mike go to make this franchise respectable again. To be recognized as winner. And Zach as best player on garbage team is in similar situation.

If he aint gonna learn it now he likely never will. But then again this doesnt solely depends just on him, it depends on Lauri Markkanen too. To figure it out. Even greats needed help and in case of Lavine given he isnt one of greats means he needs even more help.

Not everyone is Luka Dončić. Basically blessing from God to be at young age ahead of everyone in league.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#4 » by dougthonus » Fri Apr 24, 2020 9:02 pm

Not that I disagree with this conclusion, but it's funny that it's all based on on/off numbers which I find particularly dicey to base any argument off of, and then diving into weird assist / usage and total assist stats that just seem completely meaningless and arbitrary as a method to try and figure out the cause of the on/off numbers.

None of it talks about what he may or may not become either.

To me, Zach LaVine will probably never be an elite player, but if he was able to limit turnovers, limit stupid plays, and be a bit more mindful of his teammates then a lot of that could switch very quickly. I don't think he's going to be on the verge of doing that based on his total minutes in the league, but he's young enough where it isn't crazy.

Victor Oladipo didn't show as much promise as LaVine through 10k minutes, which is about where Zach is right now. That said, I never look at the exception to say that because Oladipo put it together that Zach will, most guys don't. However, it's to say his total experience is not so much that it's crazy that it would happen. The athleticism and skills are clearly there, it is largely decision making that needs to change. There's definitely a chance.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#5 » by AirLaVine8 » Fri Apr 24, 2020 10:52 pm

Its been hard for Zach to make his teammates better when all the good ones are always injured. Zach has had to take on the entire load himself
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#6 » by erlim » Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:02 pm

For my own psychological and emotional well-being, I am just going to assume Zach Lavine will never make anything of himself as a Chicago Bull.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#7 » by WindyCityBorn » Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:18 pm

Let's try to get some better players. Or maybe ones that are here like Wendell, Lauri and Porter can stay healthy AND play well. Zach is the least of our problems.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#8 » by Chicago-Bull-E » Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:41 pm

WindyCityBorn wrote:Let's try to get some better players. Or maybe ones that are here like Wendell, Lauri and Porter can stay healthy AND play well. Zach is the least of our problems.


Exactly. It always seems strange to spend endless amounts of time discussing a teams very clear best player instead of discussing all the other things that need to be fixed.

The exception is when the best player is vastly overplayed, or when the best player ignores the game plan and puts the team at risk. I don’t think either qualify here. Lots of much bigger issues. Failing young players, a loser of a head coach, a dysfunctional front office. It’s actually quite amazing at this point he has been able to improve his game and keep a good efficiency despite the chaos around him.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#9 » by kodo » Sat Apr 25, 2020 12:20 am

Kram shares Five Thirty-Eight’s advanced player rating stat, which reveals a very concerning, albeit intuitive, reality: LaVine adds only 1.2 points per 100 possessions over a league average player. For context, Trae Young (7.1), Bradley Beal (5.4), Devin Booker (3.5), D’Angelo Russell (3.1), CJ McCollum (2.7), and DeMar DeRozan (2.5) are all players on losing teams this season that – according to this stat – play a bigger role on offense as a whole than LaVine. Ouch.


Russell Westbrook was worse than Lavine on this metric, he only added +0.3 points per 100 compared to Lavine's +1.2 per 100.

Westbrook averages what, 27 8 8? Some absurd number anyway.

+/- stats almost never speak to whether a player is talented or not. They only speak to how effectively a team and coaching are utilizing these player assets into a winning formula. And that's absolutely not happening in Chicago. And poor utilization can happen even with stars on good teams as well.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#10 » by dice » Sat Apr 25, 2020 3:47 am

pretty sure that lavine's defensive deficiencies, low IQ and poor clutch performance have been sufficiently discussed. none of it is complicated
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#11 » by JimmyJammer » Sat Apr 25, 2020 4:22 am

dice wrote:pretty sure that lavine's defensive deficiencies, low IQ and poor clutch performance have been sufficiently discussed. none of it is complicated


It must be personal, because you always seem to have some biased opinions on Lavine. For your info, based on advanced stats, Lavine was in the top 16 in the league in clutchness, ahead of many all-star players, including James Harden. He just finished the season with his highest defensive rating, which is encouraging considering he is still relatively young. My post was not about how bad Lavine is as a player, but it was more of a fair assessment of what kind of player that he is and how we can maximize what he can do.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#12 » by Showtime23 » Sat Apr 25, 2020 4:45 am

JimmyJammer wrote:
dice wrote:pretty sure that lavine's defensive deficiencies, low IQ and poor clutch performance have been sufficiently discussed. none of it is complicated


It must be personal, because you always seem to have some biased opinions on Lavine. For your info, based on advanced stats, Lavine was in the top 16 in the league in clutchness, ahead of many all-star players, including James Harden. He just finished the season with his highest defensive rating, which is encouraging considering he is still relatively young. My post was not about how bad Lavine is as a player, but it was more of a fair assessment of what kind of player that he is and how we can maximize what he can do.


Lavine just posted nice advanced stats this season. There is no guarantee he will only improve and its all pure projection.
Stats aside, it is just impossible to build around him yet he is commanding major money (20+) so its a big conundrum for the Bulls since there is no direction. In AK's system, Lavine will only get worse and worse he might be out of the league if he doest adjust like Rose did.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#13 » by dice » Sat Apr 25, 2020 4:50 am

JimmyJammer wrote:
dice wrote:pretty sure that lavine's defensive deficiencies, low IQ and poor clutch performance have been sufficiently discussed. none of it is complicated


It must be personal, because you always seem to have some biased opinions on Lavine.

you're spot on. he stole money and his fiancee from me

i have RATIONAL opinions on lavine. any negative assessments of his play have nothing to do with, say, his public comments or the dopey look on his face, or projected hopes for the bulls to return to relevance (aka 'homerism')

For your info, based on advanced stats, Lavine was in the top 16 in the league in clutchness, ahead of many all-star players, including James Harden.

you really don't want to have that discussion

He just finished the season with his highest defensive rating

defensive rating is designed as a team stat. here are his pure defensive RAPM numbers for his career (no box score):

2015 -2.93
2016 -1.56
2017 -0.76
2018 injured
2019 -0.60
2020 -1.51

the only real evidence that he's improved is his increase in steals and blocks this season. but is that due to increased effort, increased gambling, or a combo? was he effectively motivated by his benching? will it continue under a new coach? looks like we'll have to wait until next year to get a better idea of that

for the record, here are his pure offensive RAPM career numbers:

2015 -1.80
2016 -0.22
2017 -1.09
2018 injured
2019 0.54
2020 -0.08

not as impressive as his box score stats
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#14 » by JimmyJammer » Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:31 am

Showtime23 wrote:
JimmyJammer wrote:
dice wrote:pretty sure that lavine's defensive deficiencies, low IQ and poor clutch performance have been sufficiently discussed. none of it is complicated


It must be personal, because you always seem to have some biased opinions on Lavine. For your info, based on advanced stats, Lavine was in the top 16 in the league in clutchness, ahead of many all-star players, including James Harden. He just finished the season with his highest defensive rating, which is encouraging considering he is still relatively young. My post was not about how bad Lavine is as a player, but it was more of a fair assessment of what kind of player that he is and how we can maximize what he can do.


Lavine just posted nice advanced stats this season. There is no guarantee he will only improve and its all pure projection.
Stats aside, it is just impossible to build around him yet he is commanding major money (20+) so its a big conundrum for the Bulls since there is no direction. In AK's system, Lavine will only get worse and worse he might be out of the league if he doest adjust like Rose did.


Man you've got the whole thing wrong. You don't have to build around Lavine, but you just have to build with him. He could be and he is a very good number 2 guy that you need to find a number one to put with him, or you just get a couple of other number 2s to put next to him. There is nothing wrong with that strategy since there are probably no more than 10 number one guys in the league. As for his salary, I disagree with the idea that he is overpaid. His production suggests that he is vastly underpaid.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#15 » by dice » Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:43 am

JimmyJammer wrote:His production suggests that he is vastly underpaid.

only if you look at the box score
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#16 » by SHO'NUFF » Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:48 am

Showtime23 wrote:
JimmyJammer wrote:
dice wrote:pretty sure that lavine's defensive deficiencies, low IQ and poor clutch performance have been sufficiently discussed. none of it is complicated


It must be personal, because you always seem to have some biased opinions on Lavine. For your info, based on advanced stats, Lavine was in the top 16 in the league in clutchness, ahead of many all-star players, including James Harden. He just finished the season with his highest defensive rating, which is encouraging considering he is still relatively young. My post was not about how bad Lavine is as a player, but it was more of a fair assessment of what kind of player that he is and how we can maximize what he can do.


Lavine just posted nice advanced stats this season. There is no guarantee he will only improve and its all pure projection.
Stats aside, it is just impossible to build around him yet he is commanding major money (20+) so its a big conundrum for the Bulls since there is no direction. In AK's system, Lavine will only get worse and worse he might be out of the league if he doest adjust like Rose did.



1. You’re way off on him commanding major money.

2. You’re way off to assume that “it’s impossible to build around him.”

3. You’re way off to assume Lavine will get “worse and worse” in AK’s system.

4. Did you just say just say that Lavine might be out of the league if he doesn’t adjust?


Yea man....you’re way off.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#17 » by Bulls619sd » Sat Apr 25, 2020 6:45 am

He's willing to improve, can shoot, can get to the rim, he has the tools. I don't think people realize how hard that is to come by, even if he's not first option but he may develop into one
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#18 » by TeamMan » Sat Apr 25, 2020 7:43 am

JimmyJammer wrote:
Showtime23 wrote:
JimmyJammer wrote:
It must be personal, because you always seem to have some biased opinions on Lavine. For your info, based on advanced stats, Lavine was in the top 16 in the league in clutchness, ahead of many all-star players, including James Harden. He just finished the season with his highest defensive rating, which is encouraging considering he is still relatively young. My post was not about how bad Lavine is as a player, but it was more of a fair assessment of what kind of player that he is and how we can maximize what he can do.


Lavine just posted nice advanced stats this season. There is no guarantee he will only improve and its all pure projection.
Stats aside, it is just impossible to build around him yet he is commanding major money (20+) so its a big conundrum for the Bulls since there is no direction. In AK's system, Lavine will only get worse and worse he might be out of the league if he doest adjust like Rose did.


Man you've got the whole thing wrong. You don't have to build around Lavine, but you just have to build with him. He could be and he is a very good number 2 guy that you need to find a number one to put with him, or you just get a couple of other number 2s to put next to him. There is nothing wrong with that strategy since there are probably no more than 10 number one guys in the league. As for his salary, I disagree with the idea that he is overpaid. His production suggests that he is vastly underpaid.

I'm very much in agreement with this idea because IMO it's true when building any winning team.

My biggest criticism of Gar/Pax was that they were not building teams to win, but instead were built teams to stay out of the Lux Tax. And that worked while they had an All NBA talent like Rose, but not for players that are not on that level. And IMO that applies to Zach.

So, because of what Gar/Pax were doing, it was difficult to judge a player whose career was set back because of having a major injury so early. Then afterward being placed in a system that was not ideal for him to resume his career on a developmental path.

More clearly, Gar/Pax has assembled a mix of talent that has no cohesiveness, and then brought in coaches who did not have the knowledge and skill to devise a system to solve the problem. They could produce components of a system, but not the whole system.

Keeping all of this in mind, I watched Zach closely this past season and the main deficiency that I saw in his game was inconsistency. However, we are talking about an NBA that has much more capable coaching than what we have had. And every night they were throwing different defensive schemes at the Bulls that were designed to disrupt Zach's strongest tendencies.

Therefore, Zach had to adapt on a nightly basis to the different defenses that teams were throwing at him, and IMO he showed mixed results.

With all of that said, it brings us to a different player on the Bulls, and you can probably guess who that is - mainly Coby White. Contrary to Zach, after a period of adjustment, Coby was showing that he could adapt his game on a nightly basis to compensate for what defenses were doing against him. And in fact, there were times when you could see visible frustration from other team's players after he beat a defensive scheme that they were given to stop him.

Now, going forward, I think that we can throw out the argument that, for the future, the Bulls should be building around Coby instead of Zach. But 1st, the two players should be started together to determine whether of not they can become a tandem, because tandems have always been at the core of winning teams in the NBA. And, at this point, I can easily see Coby and Zach becoming such a tandem.

That brings me to the final conclusion. If it does work, the other three players must be primarily defensive minded (and talented) players that can have a chemistry with the Coby/Zach tandem that I'm proposing. And IMO Lauri, OPJ and WCJ do not fit that mold. And I would even go so far as to say that IMO Gafford better fits into that mold than does WCJ.

So, IMO, Gafford could be inserted into the starting lineup, and all three of Lauri, OPJ and WCJ could be traded for players that will better synergize with the (now) Coby/Zach/Gafford core.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#19 » by WindyCityBorn » Sat Apr 25, 2020 8:11 am

SHO'NUFF wrote:
Showtime23 wrote:
JimmyJammer wrote:
It must be personal, because you always seem to have some biased opinions on Lavine. For your info, based on advanced stats, Lavine was in the top 16 in the league in clutchness, ahead of many all-star players, including James Harden. He just finished the season with his highest defensive rating, which is encouraging considering he is still relatively young. My post was not about how bad Lavine is as a player, but it was more of a fair assessment of what kind of player that he is and how we can maximize what he can do.


Lavine just posted nice advanced stats this season. There is no guarantee he will only improve and its all pure projection.
Stats aside, it is just impossible to build around him yet he is commanding major money (20+) so its a big conundrum for the Bulls since there is no direction. In AK's system, Lavine will only get worse and worse he might be out of the league if he doest adjust like Rose did.



1. You’re way off on him commanding major money.

2. You’re way off to assume that “it’s impossible to build around him.”

3. You’re way off to assume Lavine will get “worse and worse” in AK’s system.

4. Did you just say just say that Lavine might be out of the league if he doesn’t adjust?


Yea man....you’re way off.


They are just bitter LaVine is better than Markkanen. Doncic was the next great Euro and not him.
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Re: What no one ever coherently explained to me about Lavine 

Post#20 » by WindyCityBorn » Sat Apr 25, 2020 8:17 am

TeamMan wrote:
JimmyJammer wrote:
Showtime23 wrote:
Lavine just posted nice advanced stats this season. There is no guarantee he will only improve and its all pure projection.
Stats aside, it is just impossible to build around him yet he is commanding major money (20+) so its a big conundrum for the Bulls since there is no direction. In AK's system, Lavine will only get worse and worse he might be out of the league if he doest adjust like Rose did.


Man you've got the whole thing wrong. You don't have to build around Lavine, but you just have to build with him. He could be and he is a very good number 2 guy that you need to find a number one to put with him, or you just get a couple of other number 2s to put next to him. There is nothing wrong with that strategy since there are probably no more than 10 number one guys in the league. As for his salary, I disagree with the idea that he is overpaid. His production suggests that he is vastly underpaid.

I'm very much in agreement with this idea because IMO it's true when building any winning team.

My biggest criticism of Gar/Pax was that they were not building teams to win, but instead were built teams to stay out of the Lux Tax. And that worked while they had an All NBA talent like Rose, but not for players that are not on that level. And IMO that applies to Zach.

So, because of what Gar/Pax were doing, it was difficult to judge a player whose career was set back because of having a major injury so early. Then afterward being placed in a system that was not ideal for him to resume his career on a developmental path.

More clearly, Gar/Pax has assembled a mix of talent that has no cohesiveness, and then brought in coaches who did not have the knowledge and skill to devise a system to solve the problem. They could produce components of a system, but not the whole system.

Keeping all of this in mind, I watched Zach closely this past season and the main deficiency that I saw in his game was inconsistency. However, we are talking about an NBA that has much more capable coaching than what we have had. And every night they were throwing different defensive schemes at the Bulls that were designed to disrupt Zach's strongest tendencies.

Therefore, Zach had to adapt on a nightly basis to the different defenses that teams were throwing at him, and IMO he showed mixed results.

With all of that said, it brings us to a different player on the Bulls, and you can probably guess who that is - mainly Coby White. Contrary to Zach, after a period of adjustment, Coby was showing that he could adapt his game on a nightly basis to compensate for what defenses were doing against him. And in fact, there were times when you could see visible frustration from other team's players after he beat a defensive scheme that they were given to stop him.

Now, going forward, I think that we can throw out the argument that, for the future, the Bulls should be building around Coby instead of Zach. But 1st, the two players should be started together to determine whether of not they can become a tandem, because tandems have always been at the core of winning teams in the NBA. And, at this point, I can easily see Coby and Zach becoming such a tandem.

That brings me to the final conclusion. If it does work, the other three players must be primarily defensive minded (and talented) players that can have a chemistry with the Coby/Zach tandem that I'm proposing. And IMO Lauri, OPJ and WCJ do not fit that mold. And I would even go so far as to say that IMO Gafford better fits into that mold than does WCJ.

So, IMO, Gafford could be inserted into the starting lineup, and all three of Lauri, OPJ and WCJ could be traded for players that will better synergize with the (now) Coby/Zach/Gafford core.


I'm big on Coby, but it is crazy to say build around a guy that was horrible most of the season. We were saying the same thing about Markkanen before this season started. I'm not sold we have any one player to build around right now. I do think we have enough talented players to be immediately competitive under competent leadership. I don't think Boylen got the best out of anyone and we know GarPax sucked too.

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