Bulls Insider

Zach LaVine gives thumbs up to moving past injury


When Zach LaVine made his decision to tape up his left thumb and play with a torn ligament in his non-shooting hand, the Chicago Bulls were 4-0 and the All-Star guard was averaging 25.5 points on 50 percent shooting.

Over the next several games, as his turnovers increased and his shooting percentage slightly decreased, the thumb injury served as a central storyline to his and the Bulls’ season. Would he be able to keep playing through it? Would it heal? Would if affect him?

LaVine eventually ditched the protective tape on Nov. 24 and hasn’t looked back, addressing in detail the injury following Thursday’s practice at the Advocate Center. And finally admitting it impacted his game.

“You can look at my shooting splits,” LaVine said.

In 14 games with tape on his thumb, LaVine averaged 26.1 points, 3.4 assists and 2.8 turnovers while shooting 48.1 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from 3-point range and 85.7 percent from the line.

In 15 games since he ditched his protection, LaVine averaged 26.8 points, 4.9 assists and 2.8 turnovers while shooting 51.2 percent from the field, 45.4 percent from 3-point range and 82.9 percent from the line.

“I tore a ligament in my thumb. So it was pretty tough playing with it. I just thought I would have to deal with it a lot longer,” LaVine said. “Luckily, I did the treatment and the training staff did a really good job of staying on top of it. And my body just healed.

“Luckily, I didn’t get hit in that thumb again. I think that was the main thing. Everything is all healthy. Knock on wood. It should stay that way.”

LaVine said the thumb began feeling much better in early December, about a week after ditching his protective tape. A stint in the league’s health and safety protocols afforded more healing time — and less exposure to getting smacked on the court.

It’s a non-story now.

“Zach, at least since I’ve been with him, has always been a guy who plays through stuff. It’s very difficult to keep him off the floor,” coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s also smart, too. I don’t want to make it seem like he’s not making wise choices. Like, if it’s going to be something where it’s not going to necessarily cause more problems and he feels like he can play, he’s going to play. It’s just the way he’s always been. And I really appreciate that out of him.”

Donovan said LaVine had trouble gripping the ball with his left hand while playing through the injury. And he appreciated the commitment LaVine displayed by taking the route he did.

“I give him a lot of credit,” Donovan said. “He’s a tough guy.”

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