Tue. Nov 19th, 2019

BullsHype

Your source for Chicago Bulls news, notes and opinions

The Shootaround: Zach LaVine looks great, James Harden hints at media bias and more tidbits

6 min read

Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

August is a slow month around the NBA, but wait, there’s really topics to discuss

Zach LaVine is ballin’ out, we’re still discussing the MVP award and Dwight Howard could be a Laker again? Ahh, the joys of summer in the NBA.

It’s nearing the end of August, school is back in session which means Fall is close and so is the NBA season. We’re so close! For now, though, we have to scrap for our NBA content.

Believe it or not, there is some – even if some of it seems petty (example -double-teaming in pick-up basketball). Let’s take a quick dive into what’s happening around the NBA these days –

It’s another video of NBA players playing pickup ball, but dang, Zach LaVine looks good

I’m always leery of getting too amped up about NBA players and their summer open gym videos. Basically here’s what goes down, a grainy cell phone video of an NBA star pouring in long-range jumpers gets leaked and Twitter explodes.

We’ve seen it with Ben Simmons and his 3-point shooting video clips. Yes, he’s making them now, but now’s not when it matters.

Anyway, there’s another video circulating of Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine hoopin’ in a gym. Well, let’s just say he looks good. The obvious caveat once again is, it’s summer so we shouldn’t get too excited. Unless that is, your team is coming off a 22-60 season and any glimpse of promise is worth celebrating.

What is truly scintillating about the clip is LaVine’s quick burst and his ability to change speeds on the dribble so smooth and effortlessly.  I don’t think we have to worry about that torn ACL he suffered while with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In his first full season with the Chicago Bulls, the former UCLA star averaged 23.7 points per game, a career-high, while shooting 37.6 percent from 3-point range. If this video is any indication, Zach LaVine is ready for another strong season in 2019-20.

The Bulls might be on the cusp of developing something special in Chicago, especially with their young nucleus of talent, including Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. to go along with rookie guard Coby White. If they do, their flashy guard will play a major role.

It might be time for the rest of the league to respect Zach LaVine and his arrival as one of the best offensive players in the NBA.

James Harden didn’t win NBA MVP last season and he has a theory as to why

Speaking of top offensive scorers in the association, James Harden was discussing his past NBA season and why he didn’t win the NBA MVP award this past season, losing to Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

So, a quick look at Harden’s 2018-19 season: 36.1 points, 7.5 assists, 6.6 rebounds – all per-game averages covering 78 games played. So, maybe he has a point. Really, in the modern era – let’s say the 1980’s to now – who has put together a stat line like this? There’s an obvious name that immediately comes to mind, a certain #23 who played in the Windy City, perhaps?

In Michael Jordan‘s third season, way back in 1986-87, he posted 37.1 points per game with 5.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game while playing all 82 contests.

That incredible Jordan season? Oh, he didn’t win NBA MVP that year either, Magic Johnson did.

Harden might be right, the media and fans might have had a grudge against him. After all, he did shoot A LOT of 3-pointers, dribbled waaaaaayyyyyyy too much for some (maybe me?) and slowed the game down by his constant trips to the charity stripe.

Even if any of that were valid, is it really his fault? The way he plays is allowed, he’s not breaking rules, he’s not cheating or taking any banned substances. He’s looking for any edge, any advantage possible to be better than his opponents. It’s exactly what MJ did as well.

Simply not liking someone’s game doesn’t invalidate that player from actually winning postseason awards.

Really, we’re talking about pick-up basketball and whether double-teaming is okay?

You know it’s basically a dead period in NBA circles when one of the hottest topics is – debating double-teaming players in pick-up ball. Alas, that’s where we’re at as we barrel toward the end of August.

Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns was recently enjoying some open gym time with other NBA players such as Ben Simmons, Tony Snell and Joakim Noah, to name a few. This is the time of the year where guys work on their game, maintain a certain level of playing shape and just have fun.

In reality, Booker does make sense. Why should he have to face double teams in a summer gym?

But should Booker be annoyed at having to pass out of a double team? After all, recognizing doubles and moving the ball around quickly and getting to a new spot is part of the game these days. Ask Stephen Curry where he learned his skills at shooting off a catch-and-shoot, after passing out of a double team. My guess is he didn’t suddenly develop that skill magically during the regular season.

In the end, the Suns’ star has a strong point. If you’re in the gym to improve your game, now’s the time to do it, both offensively and defensively.

Booker sparked an NBA conversation that included Kevin Durant and former Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas. Hey, we can’t say these guys aren’t passionate about their craft.

Who will the Los Angeles Lakers replace DeMarcus Cousins with?

Last week’s news that DeMarcus Cousins suffered a torn ACL in his left knee was devastating. By itself, it’s a terrible injury, but combining it with the two other major injuries he’s had recently (torn Achilles tendon, torn quad) and it really puts into perspective how quickly life can change.

With that said, the Lakers are now down to just JaVale McGee as their only center. Yes, they do have Anthony Davis and of course, LeBron James. All is not lost in LaLa Land. But their depth is weak at best. So who will they find as a replacement for Cousins?

Could a Dwight Howard-Lakers reunion really be in the works? Remember when Joakim derisively called the Miami Heat led by LeBron “Hollywood as Hell”? Now Joakim might join James in Los Angeles? The NBA is just too good.

Whatever happens in Los Angeles will be entertaining, it is Hollywood after all.

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