Based on LaVine’s shaky health status and his overall performance at the time, people had a right to be skeptical.
But, LaVine proceeded to shut all of his doubters up during the 2018-19 campaign, averaging 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and one steal over 34.5 minutes per game while shooting 46.7 percent from the floor, 36.7 percent from three-point range and 83.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Sure, his defense was still an issue, but offensively, there is no question that LaVine had a big season and was worth every penny of the first year of his contract.
So, here are three numbers for LaVine to target in 2019-20:
3. 75 Games
Even though LaVine did play really well last season, he still missed 19 games, which is pretty concerning for a guy three seasons removed from a torn ACL.
Prior to the knee injury, LaVine was a very healthy specimen, as he played in 77 and 82 games, respectively, in his first two years in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Since then, he has played in 47, 24 and 63 contests, respectively.
That’s not what you want to see out of a franchise cornerstone.
Hopefully, LaVine can get back to where he was before the ACL tear this season.
2. Six Assists Per Game
While LaVine is a scorer first and foremost, it would be nice to see him continue to improve upon his playmaking ability.
The Bulls have some offensive talent around LaVine in the form of guys like Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., so he has enough help around him to properly facilitate.
LaVine is never going to be Steve Nash, but it’s not too much to ask for him to actually develop a bit more of a distributor’s mentality, even if he is primarily playing 2-guard with Tomas Satoransky, Coby White and Kris Dunn (if Chicago ends up keeping him) running the point.
A big part of what made Kobe Bryant so effective in the latter half of his career was that he learned how to be a facilitator, which is something that LaVine needs to grasp.
To be fair, LaVine doesn’t have the passing talent of Bryant, but he should, at the very least, be able to average in the neighborhood of six assists per game, much like Devin Booker in Phoenix.
1. Shoot 40 Percent from Three-Point Range
When LaVine came out of UCLA, he was billed as a freak athlete (which he is) and a smooth long-range shooter (which he sort of is).
LaVine is a career 37.3 percent shooter from downtown, which is pretty good, but with his stroke and his ability to get his shot off from almost anywhere on the floor, it would be nice if he shot better than that.
It should be noted that he has shot over 38 percent from deep twice in his career, although the latter instance came in 2016-17, when he played in just 47 games due to tearing his ACL.
But there is reason to believe that LaVine, who is a natural scorer, can make 40 percent of his triples at some point, and given the amount of offensive improvement he showed last year, why not this season?