Chicago Bulls: Where does Zach LaVine rank now?

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Everyone remembers the famous tweet going viral as the 2020-21 NBA season was set to begin: Chicago Bulls guard, Zach LaVine ranks 56th in ESPN’s annual preseason ranking of players going into the upcoming season.

Where does Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine deserve to be ranked going forward?

Notable players that were ranked ahead of Zach LaVine included Lonzo Ball, Christian Wood, Marcus Smart, Kristaps Porzingis, and CJ McCollum. This was coming off a season in which LaVine averaged 25.5 points per game, good for 11th in the NBA. He also ranked ninth in three-pointers made as he shot 38 percent from long range and 45 percent from the field.

Understandably, the analysts over at ESPN likely factored winning into their ranking but many players ranked above LaVine didn’t make the playoffs either and were not even primary scoring options on their “losing” teams like LaVine was for the Chicago Bulls.

Additionally, these analysts will attempt to tell you that their rankings include some projection, or in other words, trying to guess who is poised for the best season and then rank players accordingly. My only question, if that were the case, is why did no one expect Zach LaVine to make any jump going into this season when he flashed amazing potential in 2019?

Zach definitely took these comments to heart as he absolutely lit up the league this past season and had he not been stuck in health and safety protocols down the stretch, would have had the Chicago Bulls back in the postseason for the first time since 2016-17.

En route to his first career All-Star nomination, Zach averaged 27.7 ppg (seventh in the NBA) on 50.7 percent shooting from the field which was good for third among starting guards. He even improved his already great three-point shooting as he ranked sixth in three-pointers made on 41.9 percent shooting despite being 11th in attempts.

The only question left to ask is where will Zach LaVine rank going into the 2021-22 NBA season? His all-star nod puts him squarely in the top 12 players in the East. His numbers last season also cemented his status among the young, elite backcourt players in the NBA like Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, and Jamal Murray – the lowest of whom ranked 21st on this list going into last season so logic would dictate that Zach should at least be ranked in the top 25.

Unfortunately, many critics will likely point to the lack of winning as a reason to hold LaVine back on these rankings again this year despite his play being more than worthy. So, while to all of us who consistently watch Chicago Bulls games and know that Zach at the very least should be in the top 30, I would not be surprised if he is disrespected yet again.

While he is underappreciated, Zach isn’t perfect. He still has a lot to improve on if he truly wants to be the best player on a championship team. He needs to guide the Bulls to the playoffs as Booker, Doncic, Mitchell, and Murray have done for their respective teams. He must show that he can consistently close out games as the primary scoring option and he still has to make progress with his passing and defensive play.

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However, with the Chicago Bulls seemingly moving in the right direction under Arturas Karnisovas and head coach Billy Donovan, I have no doubt that by this time next year, Zach LaVine will unanimously be regarded as a top 25 player in the NBA even if everyone does not see it right now.