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Bulls’ Zach LaVine insists he’s back to 100 percent

Zach LaVine, Bulls

Chicago Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine insists he’s back to 100 percent after sustaining a season-ending torn ACL in early 2017, an injury that ultimately led to his trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night for Jimmy Butler.

LaVine played in 24 games with the Bulls last season, but his short sample provided little to suggest that he was bound to pick up where he left off during a 2016-17 season in which he posted a career-high 18.9 points per game before the injury.

However, LaVine believes he will return to form, according to Alex Squadron of SLAM Magazine.

“I got my speed back, my jumping back,” LaVine said. “Once you get off an ACL injury, you’re lifting and eating. So I got up to, like, 210 pounds. I’ve never been that heavy before. I’m not a post-up player. I’m fast, a more athletic guy. I got back down to the weight I need to be at [185 pounds], but still I feel strong. I feel really good, man. I’m excited for the season.”

The Washington native posted 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game last season, shooting a mere 38.3 percent from the field and only 34.1 percent from deep, still a shadow of himself in the eyes of many.

In all fairness, ACL injuries take a while to recover from and 24 games is a fairly small sample for his production, especially with a new cast of young teammates.

LaVine signed a four-year, $78 million deal with the Bulls after the team matched the Sacramento Kings’ offer sheet — proving the franchise still has faith in his impending full recovery.

“We’re excited to have him back,” Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said during the Summer League. “He’s a 23-year-old. He has as good athleticism as anybody in this league.”

“Obviously there’s a ton of value in Zach and what we feel he can bring long-term to the organization. And again, he fits with the way we want to play with his athleticism. Now that he’s got a taste and a feel for how we want to play, to have that full summer leading into training camp this year is very important.”

LaVine is expected to be one of the pillars of the franchise, along with recent draft pieces like Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., but the extent of his tenure with this team will hinge in how he heals and how he provides for this team that is looking to carve a spot in the East after a season of complete rebuilding.