Bulls' Zach LaVine, by the numbers: Examining his career season

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Zach LaVine's career-best season for Bulls, by the numbers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Here’s the thing about Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine: He’s never satisfied.

So as soon as he earned his first All-Star appearance in March, he cited All-NBA and All-Defensive teams as his next individual goals.

And as soon as he wrapped a career season, he looked ahead.

I'm proud of my development each year. But I look forward to the challenge of getting better,” LaVine said. “A lot of people over the last three years thought, ‘OK, Zach had a great year. This is what he is.’ I’m going to keep going. I have a lot more room to grow. And I'm going to push my talents to the limit.”

And he already has invited teammates Coby White and Patrick Williams to join him for offseason workouts on his quest. Specifically, LaVine said he planned to build up his endurance to be a stronger two-way player for longer periods of time and develop more as a leader.

But before LaVine begins that process, it’s time to look back one more time at his career season by the numbers.

LaVine averaged career-highs in scoring at 27.4 points, assists at 4.9, rebounds at five, field-goal percentage at 50.7, 3-point percentage at 41.9 (on the highest volume of his career at 8.2 per game), and free-throw percentage at 84.9.

He became the first Bull in franchise history to make at least 200 3-pointers in a season. He posted six 20-point quarters, second only to Steph Curry, and 25 30-point games, two ahead of Joel Embiid (23) for sixth.

He was the only player in the league to play at least 50 games and average 25 points on shooting splits of 50-40-80. And he fell just six assists and one made free throw shy of joining Curry (three times) and Larry Bird as the only players in NBA history to average 27-5-5 with shooting splits of 50-40-85.

“He was a much better player this year,” executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas said.

LaVine’s career-high 50 points on April 9 versus the Atlanta Hawks made him the fifth player in franchise history to post such a game. One month later, LaVine passed Bob Love for sole possession of 40-point games in franchise history with 14.

And, yes, he’s a tad behind Michael Jordan’s franchise mark of 203 games.

LaVine did earn another franchise record by posting four games with at least seven 3-pointers, pushing his total to nine. His 39 percent accuracy on pull-up 3-pointers trailed only Curry (40.9 percent) among players who took at least five per game.

It’s all heady stuff. But now must come the main goal that eludes LaVine, his first postseason appearance.

“He’s really about winning. That’s something that was very important for me to see when I got here. And I saw it from Day One,” Nikola Vučević said. “That’s something you want to have from one of your best players.

“He’s very motivated to win. And he really wants to do that here. That’s something that we both have and I think we can help the team more next year.”

Vučević's comment from Monday’s exit meetings flew under the radar a little bit. But the players share an agency and a focus to lead the Bulls back to the postseason.

“Very good teammate. Very unselfish. Very good guy. Very positive person to be around. Players really like to play with him. I did,” Vučević said. “I think our chemistry, the time we did have, grew the more we played together. And I think there are a lot of good things that can come out of that.

“I can just tell it bothered him that we didn’t make the playoffs and he really wanted to do it. We talked about next year. It just comes out of him how motivated he is to get there.”

If Billy Donovan finishes next season as coach, which is about as much a certainty as you can get, it will mark the first time in LaVine’s eight seasons that he will play for the same coach in two straight full seasons. Expect more numbers.

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