Zach LaVine is a tough player.
Any Chicago Bulls fan knows LaVine desperately wants to be on the floor at all times. If there’s a will there’s a way, and LaVine’s willingness to play through the pain is admirable.
The star shooting guard recently had fluid taken from his knee and an injection to help prevent soreness and swelling. Through the process of visiting a doctor in Los Angeles and missing the last three games up until the All-star break, he’s endured plenty more pain.
Zach LaVine is on the Bulls bench now — in street clothes, but present in Chicago after having fluid drained from his left knee and an injection to ease soreness and swelling.
— Julia Poe (@byjuliapoe) February 17, 2022
LaVine has played in 47 of the 59 games the Bulls executed this season. But, the 12 games he missed were for a multitude of injuries. I designed a table below with the injuries and dates for the time he dealt with them.
[table id=2 /]
LaVine played through a lot this season. Most impressively, the torn ligaments on his thumb hardly affected his shot, even though they were torn in his shooting hand.
In the 14 games with his thumb injury, LaVine averaged 26.1 points, 3.4 assists, and shot 48.1 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from downtown and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line, according to NBCSports Chicago.
LaVine’s knee soreness certainly gave Bulls fans a scare. Considering his pain developed from the knee that he tore his ACL back in 2017, it looked like another Derrick Rose situation in Chicago.
LaVine missed an initial six games in the middle of January with that injury. Including the game, he left against the Warriors three minutes into the contest with that injury. The Bulls went 1-5 during that stretch without him.
He returned for six games before sitting out the following two with back spasms. During the stretch he returned to the lineup, the Bulls went 4-2 against their opponents.
Now, he has been without his team for the past three games leading up to the All-star break due to his recurring knee injury. Luckily, his specialist in Los Angeles found no serious damage to his knee.
Bulls fans can take a sigh of relief now that their star could participate in All-star weekend as well as the Bulls’ next game against the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 24.
The Bulls stepped up
It’s crucial to point out two things from LaVine’s up-and-down season, peppered with injuries and nearly a cautionary tale.
First, LaVine is the heart and soul of the Bulls. His adamant behavior towards playing while injured should not go unnoticed. There have been plenty of injuries around the league that players could play through but don’t.
LaVine should be praised for his nobility on the floor, risking injury in multiple places as he continues his fast-paced, aggressive style of play.
Second, for this reasoning, this is why the Bulls’ stacked the box with veterans and All-star caliber players, like DeRozan. DeRozan has scored over 35 points in each of his last seven contests, breaking the abstract, is that-really-a-record NBA record of seven straight games with 35+ points with 50 percent shooting from the field.
It’s also a kudos to Nikola Vucevic, who has averaged 24.4 points and 13.6 rebounds per game in his last 10 games while shooting 63.9 percent from the floor. In a time without LaVine to carry the offensive momentum, Vucevic has stepped up, right alongside DeRozan.
LaVine should return after the All-star weekend, marking the return of the Bulls’ true leader.