Bulls Insider

LaVine focused on playoff push after All-Star omission


Not only will Zach LaVine not be in Salt Lake City for the 2023 NBA All-Star game, he's not sticking around another cold climate.

"I won’t be in Chicago; I’ll tell you that," LaVine said, laughingly, following the Chicago Bulls' Saturday morning shootaround at the Advocate Center.

After earning All-Star status in 2021 and 2022 as a reserve voted in by coaches, LaVine didn't get the nod this year to join DeMar DeRozan in the Feb. 19 game in Utah.

"I didn’t feel like I played at an All-Star level at the beginning of the season. That’s coming back off of injury. I started slow and then started picking it up," LaVine said. "I am where I’m supposed to be at. I know who I am as a player. I think the league knows that too.

"I think we need to be in a better position for us to have two or three guys in the All-Star game. I think we’re sitting 10th right now. That’s not good. I think bigger picture you’re not worried about All-Star, you’re trying to get your team back in the playoff picture."

Even when LaVine made the team the last two seasons, he always talked about team success as being his primary goal. As for individual goals, he appreciated the respect that All-Star berths gave him, but he also set his sights on bigger goals like All-NBA and All-Defense teams.

LaVine began this season on a load management plan after spending his offseason undergoing rehabilitation following arthroscopic knee surgery instead of his typical drill work and 5-on-5 scrimmaging. He sat out one game in three of the Bulls' first four sets of back-to-back games but overall has played in 47 of 51 games.

To LaVine's point, he averaged 20.5 points on 39.9 percent shooting, including 31.8 percent from 3-point range, in November. Those numbers jumped to 24.5 points per game in December and 26.1 points per game in January. Overall, LaVine is averaging 23.4 points on 46 percent shooting, including 37.6 percent from 3-point range, after his slow start.

That's why he laughed off a question about whether his All-Star omission has changed his perception of his own standing throughout the league.

"You’re going to have to take my actions. I’ve said that for the last six years," LaVine said. "It’s a good time I’ll be able to spend with my family and continue to get more and more healthy and get ready for the rest of the season."

LaVine is a first-time father and will be traveling someplace warm during the All-Star break. He also expressed happiness that DeMar DeRozan made it for his second straight season as a Bull, and sixth overall.

"He deserves it. He’s been one of the best players in the league. Obviously, our record hasn’t been great this year. But he’s a big reason why we win a lot of our games, especially late game," LaVine said. "And I think everything that comes his way, he deserves. He works for it. He’s a great guy and a great teammate."

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