Bulls’ Zach LaVine defends Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins from Jimmy Butler’s criticism about work ethic
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson, Chicago Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine offered strong support to a couple of his former teammates. With Minnesota Timberwolves young stars Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins facing public and private criticism for what has been perceived as a lack of work ethic, particularly from teammate Jimmy Butler, LaVine sought to shoot down what he feels are unwarranted conversations.
“KAT and Wigs are some of my good friends,” LaVine said. “Wigs just had his newborn baby and congratulations to him on that. And KAT is a really laid back dude, but they are extremely competitive at the same time. They work hard. I feel like they are getting some flack because some people are saying they don’t work hard. People in the organization are saying that. But I think they are extremely hard workers.”
“Whenever I am in the gym, they are too. I have seen Wigs go back late night after games that he didn’t play well and go get shots up too. So, I think they are proven players in the NBA for sure. I think they will be just fine.”
LaVine entered the league with Wiggins in 2015, so they’ve known each other since their rookie season. Towns was drafted the following season. With the three years he has known Wiggins and the two years he has known Towns, LaVine would know as much as anybody what kind of work ethic they have. While obviously biased, as he’s friends with them both, his anecdotal evidence and firm praise speak volumes for the duo.
Of course, as LaVine was traded by the Timberwolves (for Butler), he didn’t see what kind of work ethic Wiggins and Towns had last season. Butler did.
For whatever reason, LaVine and Butler have differing opinions about how hard Wiggins and Towns work. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, as it usually is.
However, it’s worth noting that both Wiggins and Towns averaged at least 23.0 points per game in the 2016-17 season (LaVine averaged 18.9 points per game) and they both averaged under 23.0 points per game after Butler’s arrival.
It’s possible the shift in their roles also caused a shift in their work ethic.