Bulls’ Zach LaVine reacts to Jamal Murray, Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker busting out in bubble
The quality of basketball has been pleasantly high in the bubble, and no type of player has benefited more from the unique environment than shooting guards on the cusp of superstardom. Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine certainly noticed.
23-year-old Jamal Murray noticeably elevated his play during the restart, leading the Denver Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals in a spectacular playoff run in which he averaged 26.5 points per game on .505/.453/.897 splits. He even momentarily became Michael Jordan.
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) September 25, 2020
Likewise, Phoenix Suns All-Star Devin Booker was one of the stars of the seeding games, powering Phoenix to an 8-0 record and on the cusp of an improbable playoff berth. Booker averaged 30.5 points and 6.0 assists per game during the restart, earning a spot on the All-Seeding Games First Team.
Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell took his game to new heights, too. The 24-year-old averaged a bubble-best 36.3 points per game in his team’s seven-game first-round series against Denver on ridiculous .529/.516/.948 splits — including two games in which he dropped at least 50 points.
LaVine had a stellar season for the Bulls, but they went just 22-43 and didn’t qualify for the bubble. expressed his enthusiasm for the stellar performances of his peers in front of increased eyeballs, as well as a touch of envy for not having the same platform:
“What’s been crazy about it is it’s just been more of the national people being able to see these guys,” LaVine told The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry. “Donovan Mitchell, Jamal Murray, Devin Booker, these guys have been doing this for the last couple of years. I just think now the national media’s able to see it. I put myself in that same [category]. I feel like I’ve been doing really good over these last couple of years. You just might not have been able to see it or have those opportunities.”
LaVine added that he plans to use the impressive play of his fellow shooting guards as motivation to continue improving:
“I’m happy to see my peers do good. Obviously I wish I had that opportunity as well. It just makes me work a lot harder so I can get on that stage to prove I am at that level and competing at that level as well.”
Zach LaVine averaged a career-high 25.5 points in 2019-20, but the jury is still out on whether he can round out his game enough to be the focal point of a winning team. The Bulls’ recently hired head coach, Billy Donovan, will be tasked with unlocking LaVine’s full potential.