Bulls’ Zach LaVine’s evolution as a two-way player explained by Billy Donovan
Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls entered the consciousness of basketball fans as an athletic swingman with hops and fantastic dunks in his arsenal. These days, he’s known as a capable offensive gunner and is even showing hints of being a strong defender.
Per KC Johnson of NBC Sports, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said that LaVine is slowly evolving into a two-way player.
“I feel like he’s working defensively. And listen, it’s a lot for him. I think he’s finding out how hard it is to be a two-way player. He’s doing so much offensively for us scoring.”
Billy Donovan on Zach LaVine, who he credited with strong D in closing stretch: "I feel like he’s working defensively. And listen, it’s a lot for him. I think he’s finding out how hard it is to be a two-way player. He’s doing so much offensively for us scoring."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 16, 2021
In the Bulls’ 120-112 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers, LaVine had 30 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. LaVine didn’t log in any blocks or steals. But Donovan definitely saw how LaVine exerted extra effort on the defensive end of the floor.
In an interview last month, LaVine revealed that there has been a conscious effort to become a better defensive player with the Bulls. LaVine himself considers himself a decent defender. So it’s just a matter of maintaining that energy.
“A little bit of everything,’’ LaVine said, when asked what was the reasoning for the new mentality on defense, per Bulls reporter Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’ve always considered myself a really good on-ball defender. I don’t think a lot of people are going to beat me off the dribble. But just the energy and awareness, and it comes with film and coaches being on you like you said, and me just understanding I have to do this to help us win.
LaVine has definitely gone a long way from just spiking the ball into the ring. And as the season progresses, he will definitely get better and probably receive more recognition with the Bulls for the newly emergent dimensions of his game which are making him a more complete player in Chicago.