Zach LaVine Critics Who Believe He Is More Concerned About Stats Than Winning Got Destroyed by Bulls Coach Billy Donovan: ‘People Have No Idea What Kind of Person He Is’

Zach LaVine has career averages of 19.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.8 assists with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls. He’s a two-time Slam Dunk Champion and made his first All-Star team in 2021.

However, LaVine has never been to the playoffs or had a winning record in the NBA. As a result, some pundits believe the UCLA product is more concerned about stats than winning.

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan is undoubtedly not in that camp. In fact, after the Bulls defeated the Detroit Pistons on January 11, he destroyed all of LaVine’s critics.

Billy Donovan on Zach LaVine: “People have no idea what kind of person he is”

LaVine had his worst game of the season against the Pistons. He scored a season-low 10 points while shooting 3-of-10 from the field. However, the electric guard didn’t force up shots once he realized it wasn’t his night and contributed in other facets, racking up nine rebounds and seven assists in the Bulls’ 46-point win.

Donovan, who could win Coach of the Year since the Bulls have the best record in the Eastern Conference, passionately defended LaVine after the Bulls-Pistons game and called the Washington native an unselfish player.

“He is the ultimate team guy,” Donovan said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “He just tries to play the right way. He is as great of a guy as you can imagine being around. And I know people see the athleticism and the running and the jumping and the talent and the skill. But people have no idea what kind of person he is. They have no idea how unselfish he is, how important his teammates are to him.”

LaVine is playing with the best group of teammates he’s had in his NBA career. DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic have helped ease the scoring burden, and Lonzo Ball is the point guard/playmaker he’s always lacked in Chicago. The Bulls don’t win last season if LaVine finishes with 10 points. The Bulls’ front office deserves significant credit for improving the roster in the offseason.

However, Donovan wants people to understand how great LaVine played against the Pistons despite the 26-year-old ending up with only 10 points.

Billy Donovan on Zach LaVine’s game vs. Pistons: “A game like today speaks to me of his greatness”

LaVine has been called an “empty calories” scorer in the past since his high-scoring seasons never resulted in his teams winning games. That phrase has been nowhere to be found this year since LaVine is averaging 25.7 points, and the Bulls are the top team in the East.

Donovan certainly doesn’t want to see LaVine struggle as he did against the Pistons. However, the former Oklahoma City Thunder coach believes there was a level of greatness displayed by LaVine in the contest.

“I think he realizes there’s probably a little bit more help around him than maybe he has had with Vooch and DeMar,” Donovan said. “He’s really a great teammate. He’s a great guy. He wants to win. He wants to do the right things. I just have a lot of respect and admiration for the way he approaches every day, just professionally. He’s great to work with. He’s great to be around. A game like today speaks to me of his greatness.”

2021-22 is the first season LaVine has had the same coach for two full seasons. He and Donovan have developed a strong bond, and their rapport is a big reason why the Bulls have been successful.

Bulls could make serious noise in the playoffs

The Bulls are fifth in the NBA in net rating this season. LaVine and DeRozan are putting up MVP-type numbers, and Donovan has his group playing hard and with a lot of energy every night.

Chicago could make some serious noise in the playoffs since it has talented offensive and defensive players. It also helps that Donovan has a sound relationship with the team, something former coach Jim Boylen didn’t have.

2017 is the last year the Bulls made the playoffs. They lost to the Boston Celtics in the first round and then traded Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a package that brought LaVine to Chicago. The Bulls won the trade with the Timberwolves since Butler only played one season in Minnesota, and LaVine has established himself as one of the best guards in the league.

All signs point toward LaVine signing a long-term extension with the Bulls in the offseason, but right now, he’s focused on leading Chicago to a championship: “He’s very much invested in the team,” Donovan said about LaVine. “And he wants to do things that are sustainable for a long time.”

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