With the NBA offseason complete and preseason basketball tipping off in a matter of days, the annual ESPN top-100 players rankings began to be released this morning which created a lot of excitement. Last season, the Bulls were mediocre, to say the least, so it was expected that the only player with a legitimate chance to crack these rankings would be Zach LaVine after he put together a strong 2019-20 season. Surprisingly, Otto Porter Jr. came in as the 98th best player, so there are no complaints there. However, ESPN never fails to disappoint us and ranked LaVine as the 56th best player currently. Are you serious???
After seeing his potential this past season, most people would probably agree that LaVine would fall somewhere between the top 30-40 top players in the league given that he flashed All-Star potential under one of the worst head coaches in NBA history, Jim Boylen. Despite that talent, ESPN is trying to tell me that Zach LaVine is somehow worse than Lonzo Ball, who can’t even shoot a jumper to save his life. Even better, LaVine was ranked 55th last year in the player rankings with a point to prove and put together a career season. Unfortunately, that garnered him no respect as he even dropped one spot in this year’s rankings — indicating that the ESPN writers seriously watched none of the Bulls games this past year.
Looking into this ranking, there is only one word to explain why LaVine was ranked so low: losing. Under Jim Boylen, the Bulls were utterly atrocious. They have essentially been at the bottom of the Eastern Conference the entire time LaVine has been there and have yet to show any potential when it comes to winning. Looking at the players ahead of him, the likes of Lonzo Ball, Michael Porter Jr., and Bogdan Bogdanovic have all played important roles in their respective teams either making the playoffs or competing for those spots. However, this is supposed to be about player rankings, so how much should team success play a role in ranking an individual player?
This past season, LaVine averaged 25.5 points per game while shooting 45% from the field and 38% from the three-point line. While some may argue that LaVine was putting up numbers on a bad team, he has gotten resounding endorsements from other players, including the likes of new teammate Garrett Temple and renowned star Kevin Durant, who have gone out of their way to say that LaVine has the potential to be a superstar in the near future.
Just taking a look at some of LaVine’s highlights, it’s not hard to understand why other players think highly of him. He possesses outstanding athleticism, scoring ability, and competitiveness that makes him fun to watch.
Adding new head coach Billy Donovan to the mix will provide much needed stability in the coaching department and he should be able to unlock even more of LaVine’s potential this upcoming season. Hopefully, the next time the top 100 players are discussed, LaVine is much higher on this list and is tapping into his superstar potential.