The Chicago Bulls got blown out by the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night on the road in their season-opener, losing by a final score of 127-108. The one bright spot for the Bulls was the play of starting shooting guard Zach LaVine, who scored 30 points while shooting 11-of-19 from the field, 2-of-7 from beyond the arc, and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.
LaVine was acquired by the Bulls during the summer of 2017 from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler trade. The high-flyer only played in 24 games after missing the majority of the 2017-18 regular-season recovering from left ACL surgery. In those 24 games, LaVine averaged 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 38.3 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3-point range.
Now fully healthy after having a productive offseason, Zach LaVine says he feels like himself again, via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune:
Does this 30-point game feel different to LaVine than last season's? "Yeah, man. A year after that ACL, I feel I’m back to myself—athletically, speed-wise, quickness. I just needed y’all to give me a little bit of time. I was about 70 percent last year. I think I did all right"
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 19, 2018
The Bulls matched the Sacramento Kings’ four-year, $78 million offer sheet for LaVine in July. LaVine’s new contract includes language that protects the Bulls in case his surgically repaired knee develops further complications.
Despite the loss, the Bulls have to be encouraged by what they saw from Zach LaVine. With power forward Lauri Markkanen out with an elbow injury, Chicago’s offense is going to run through LaVine, and he has the potential to put up some big numbers.
Whether that leads to wins for the Bulls has yet to be determined.