Bulls Insider

LaVine's finishing kick is returning to form for Bulls


Don’t look now, but Zach LaVine’s finishing kick is returning to norm.

Not only did LaVine’s knee management plan dominate early-season headlines, so did his struggles at the rim. Long an elite finisher, LaVine’s shooting percentages in the restricted area and on drives hovered well below his career averages.

“Nah, because I didn’t work on it,” LaVine said following Monday’s shootaround, when asked if his early-season struggles concerned him. “Until training camp, I didn’t pick up a basketball. So not jumping or working out or doing anything you usually do during the offseason to prepare yourself for the season, I pretty much got that on the run during games.”

And now that LaVine has logged 28 games in his return from an offseason arthroscopic knee procedure, his rhythm and timing are returning.

“That’s what I felt. I felt I just needed to get back in rhythm and the timing,” he said. “Because if you don’t do it, you lose it.

“I’m feeling better. The first 10 or 15 games coming off injury, you’re going to have some ups and downs. So I expected it. I understand it. I feel good. The last 10, 15 games, I felt like myself.”

LaVine is shooting 66.9 percent in the restricted area on 5.1 attempts per game. Both his percentage and his attempts have risen dramatically since the start of the season. He’s also now shooting 67.9 percent from 0-3 feet, which is higher than his career mark of 65.6 percent and third-best of his career.

It also should be noted that Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan has openly talked about his desire to place LaVine in more catch-and-shoot situations. This is a reflection not only of LaVine’s jumpshooting ability — he’s at 37 percent on 7.5 3-point attempts per game — but also the Bulls’ lack of outside shooting.

The Bulls rank 30th in the NBA with just 28.9 attempts from 3-point range. With Lonzo Ball sidelined indefinitely, LaVine represents the Bulls’ most prolific remaining option to help space the floor.

LaVine’s drives have dropped off dramatically. He’s averaging nine per game, down from 13.6 in 2018-19 and down from 12 just two seasons ago.

Perhaps this is why LaVine’s free-throw attempts sit at just four per game, a number he and the Bulls would like to see climb.

“Hopefully, I can get that up. I feel like I’ve been driving the ball well and getting to the line the last couple games,” LaVine said. “So hopefully we can find more ways to do it.”

LaVine’s career-high is six free-throw attempts per game in 2018-19. He attempted 5.6 per game in two of the last three season. He has attempted at least five free throws in each of his last three games.

LaVine often can be seen talking to officials following drives where no foul call on the opponent follows.

“That’s always been my MO man,” he said, smiling. “They always say they didn’t see it or sorry they missed it. So, I don’t know. I’ll just keep going in there.”

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