Even if the 2019-20 season doesn't resume, Zach LaVine will have had the best year of his career through 60 games played - a breakout campaign in which he averaged 25.5 points per game on steady efficiency and superstar volume. In his sixth season, he separated himself as a premier bucket-getter in the league and a leader in the Bulls' locker room.
Still, questions persist as it pertains to the ceiling of a franchise with LaVine at the forefront. His defense and playmaking both improved in 2019-20, but there remains room to grow. He has never been a member of a team that won more than 31 games in a season in his career.
LaVine is cognizant of those questions, and anxious to flip them, and the Bulls' fortunes, on their head. The hope is that the organization's revamped front office, which was bolstered by the recent hire of Marc Eversley as general manager, can help in that regard. Eversley marked new executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas' third significant hire since coming on board earlier in April. Salary cap expert J.J. Polk is already in tow as an assistant general manager, and Pat Connelly will assume a leading role in player personnel.
In a recent interview with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, LaVine expressed excitement for the direction of the franchise, adding that he has spoken with both Karnisovas and Eversley already.
"I've talked to them both (Karnisovas and Eversley), and I'm extremely excited to get to working with them," LaVine told Kennedy. "It's something that I think we (the Bulls) needed - a switch-up so that the Bulls fans can see that we're looking in the right direction and getting better.
"Obviously, we all love the work that Gar (Forman) and [John Paxson] have done for us and the city of Chicago. I think the fans sometimes give them a hard time because they want the results here and now, but it's hard to do that in sports. It really is. They had a really good run at it, and they're still beloved. Obviously, I'm just excited to get this started and get right into it."
It's no surprise that Karnisovas and LaVine have been in touch. When Karnisovas was introduced on April 13, he made it a point that he would be in personal contact (or as personal contact as possible) with every player on the Bulls' roster and member of the team's coaching staff.
"They're going use (this line) a lot of times, ‘Well, I've never seen this before.' I'm going to be there in the practice facility first. I'm going to be working out before them. We'll eat breakfast maybe together. We're going to talk about family. I'll be around all the time until we establish a particular culture and expectations," Karnisovas told our K.C. Johnson in a 1-on-1 sit-down just after his formal introduction.
Especially encouraging is the Eversley connection. Eversley enters Chicago with a sterling reputation around the league as a talent evaluator and relationship builder, especially with players. Though his hiring was first reported just this Sunday, the fact that he and LaVIne have already begun laying interpersonal groundwork further illustrates the Bulls' commitment to player development and relationships under their new regime.
The Bulls modernizing their front office should be as energizing to the players as it has been for the fan base. LaVine, at least, appears intent on learning from the team's shortcomings in 2019-20 moving forward.
"I just hope everybody is willing and prepared to sacrifice. You have to be able to sacrifice sometimes to get to what you want - whether that's fun or numbers or things like that," LaVine told Kennedy. "I hope everyone is making their sacrifice and getting in the gym and trying to get better. That's the biggest thing for success. At least for me, it always comes from hard work. I'm going to continue to do that and I hope we all come back ready to focus.
"I thought we approached this year like we were going to be good and we weren't. We didn't have the chemistry, we didn't have the right mindset. We got a little bit shocked; we thought we were going to do really well and we didn't do well. We have to come back and prove people wrong."
Zach LaVine extremely excited to work with Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago