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Zach LaVine, Bulls, All-Star

Put Zach LaVine in the All-Star Game, you cowards

Zach LaVine’s scoring explosion against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night epitomized the reasons he needs to be in the 2021 All-Star Game.

LaVine erupted for 46 points on 17-for-25 shooting, including 9-for-14 from beyond the arc. He got just about whatever he wanted, emphasizing his growing reputation as one of the best offensive players in basketball.

The 25-year-old is averaging 28.2 points, 5.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds through his first 24 games, shooting close to 52 percent from the field and 42.5 percent from deep. Despite his terrific season, however, LaVine might not be voted in as an All-Star.

LaVine ranks fifth among Eastern Conference vote-getters in the backcourt. Only two backcourt players are voted in as starters.

The coaches select the 14 reserve players, and they need to get it right this time.

They need to make Zach LaVine an All-Star.

A deeper dive into the offensive numbers

We have already established Zach LaVine has been an exceptional talent as a scorer and playmaker for a Chicago Bulls team that is currently 10-14 on the season, which is just outside the top eight in the East.

But let’s dive in a bit deeper.

Chicago’s offensive rating is 114.3 when LaVine is on the court, per Basketball Reference. That number falls to 107.8 when he sits.

The former UCLA has some seriously gaudy shooting numbers. He is making 48.8 percent of all pull-up jumpers, including 48.2 percent of those attempts from beyond the arc.

Want a step-back? LaVine has that in his bag, as well. He is making 48.9 percent of step-back Js, including 9-for-23 (.391) from deep.

The numbers illustrate just how good LaVine is as a shot creator. He is making over 41 percent of his above-the-break triples, which is exceptional considering most think of the corner 3-ball as the best shot in basketball.

OK, back to the advanced metrics. LaVine ranks just outside the top 20 in player efficiency rating (PER). He is inside the top 20 in Offensive Win Shares and Offensive Box Plus/Minus, and he also ranks 20th in value over replacement player (VORP). His 65.2 percent true shooting mark is fifth among players with a usage rate over 25.

There is no shot LaVine cannot get for himself, and he has been tremendously important to his team’s offensive success. Not to mention, LaVine is one of the most explosive athletes in the game.

How can you not want a guy like that in the All-Star Game?

About the defense…

Now, time for the elephant in the room.

Yes, Zach LaVine leaves much to be desired on the defensive end of the floor. But you know what? The same can be said for guys like Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving and Trae Young, among other Eastern Conference backcourt players.

LaVine ranks above all of those guys in defensive field goal percentage. Defensive rating is a bit of a different story, but that is partially because he — like Beal — plays heavy minutes with underwhelming defenders, notably Coby White.

Plus, despite some of the defensive numbers, LaVine still ranks 10th among qualified guards in player impact estimate (PIE).

Simply put: the coaches need to find a way to get Zach LaVine to the All-Star Game.