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Getty Zach LaVine

The Chicago Bulls have a legit All-Star in Zach LaVine. It’s time to build around him, but is he really at his best with the other young pieces on the team?

LaVine has been nothing short of spectacular this season, and he’s been at his best the past month. In February, LaVine is averaging 31.

1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. He’s shooting 52.7% from the field, 42% from three-point range, and making 84% of his free throws.

At one time, efficiency was a question mark for LaVine, but that can no longer be a question mark in his game. LaVine has matured throughout his career, and his leap within this season has been a pleasure to witness. He’s even a far better defender than he has been his entire career.

It seems evident, LaVine is a building block for the Bulls’ future, but what about the rest of the players on the team who fans and Bulls brass expect to be a part of the nucleus moving forward?

Some startling on-court statistics suggest the Bulls are a better team when LaVine is on the court with the veterans instead of the other young guys. Previous Bulls management has positioned this group to be by his side while the team hopefully turns into a legit contender.

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Bulls Have Been Better When LaVine is on the Floor With Satoransky

Numbers don’t ever tell the whole story, but it is unwise to dismiss their validity completely. True Hoops’ Tom Haberstroh posted the plus-minus ratings for LaVine, Coby White, and Patrick Williams compared to LaVine, Garrett Temple, and Thad Young.

Mark Karantzoulis of Bulls HQ piggybacked and expanded on the concept. He posted the plus-minus net ratings for the entire Bulls young core, including Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. Karantzoulis compared the veteran lineup mentioned above, with Tomas Satoransky thrown in.

Take a look.

Further context to the below:

LaVine, White, Williams, Markkanen, Carter: -17.3 net rating

LaVine, Sato, Thad, Temple: +34.9 net rating

Playing with better players matters, something Zach has rarely had a chance to do in seven seasons.

— Mark K (@mkhoops) February 23, 2021

As much as many in Chicago love White, it seems obvious the Bulls are better when Satoransky is at point guard. That doesn’t mean White has no value, and the Bulls need to trade him.
However, it does mean the team needs to put him in a position where he isn’t tasked with running the show and can be more of a streaky and explosive scorer without it hindering the flow of the entire offense and negatively impacting things on defense as well.

Carter Jr. and Markkanen Are Expendable

The metrics with Carter and Markkanen are especially telling.

The Bulls can still go shopping for an upgrade at point guard, and the much-discussed trade for Lonzo Ball makes tons of sense. While getting Ball would make the Bulls better, you could argue Chicago has an even more significant void at power forward and center.

Markkanen and Carter are there, but neither man has proven capable of staying healthy. Markkanen still hasn’t started practicing again after his most recent injury, a shoulder issue. He has missed more than half of the team’s 30 games this season. During the 2019-20 season, Markkanen missed 16 contests and had the worst campaign of his career from a statistical standpoint.

In his first two seasons, Markkanen missed a total of 44 games. It’s pretty safe to say he’s injury-prone, and the Bulls were right not to commit to him long-term this past offseason.

Carter is in a similar boat. He recently returned from a thigh injury, but he has already missed 11 games this season. Last year, Carter missed 23 games, and as a rookie, he missed 38. Like Markkanen, he’s earned the injury-prone label.

Even when Carter is healthy, he has some clear limitations to his game. He’s not a stout interior defender, and he has no range on his jump shot to establish a stretch-big threat. Perhaps if he were available more consistently, his issues would be more tolerable.

The Bulls would be wise to explore trades for both of their young bigs, especially if it would help facilitate an acquisition of a point guard or draft assets.

Also Read:
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  • Bulls Star Calls Teammate and Trade Rumors Target the ‘MVP of the Team’
  • Daniel Gafford Has Strong Words for His Recent Play
  • Billy Donovan Speaks on Bulls’ Potential Change at PG
  • Fox Sports Has Troubling Wendell Carter Jr. List

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Tags: basketball nba breaking news 5 fast facts crime politics shopping wendell carter jr games this season the other young a question mark at point guard the bulls markkanen and the bulls ratings better zach lavine lavine at his best on the team

Grand Canyon seeks revenge on Utah Valley

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Fighter Slams UFCs Dana White: You Dont Believe In Me

Getty Dana White, president of the UFC, speaks at a press conference for UFC 111 at Radio City Music Hall on March 24, 2010, in New York City.

UFC president Dana White has no idea what he did to light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.

Blachowicz fought in the main event of UFC 259 on Saturday night, taking on the current UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya. The “Prince of Cieszyn” defended his 205-pound strap by unanimous decision, halting Adesanya’s dream of becoming an undefeated UFC double champ.

It was the Polish fighter’s first title defense, extending his win streak to five and adding another big name to his mantel, which includes the likes of former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and top light heavyweight Dominick Reyes.

In less than two years, Blachowicz went from a lesser-known fighter to the king of light heavyweights. Because his start in the UFC was less than stellar, going 2-4 in his first six promotional bouts, as well as capturing gold after Jon Jones vacated the title, some haven’t given Blachowicz the credit he deserves.

According to White, Blachowicz had something to say about that after the UFC president wrapped the light heavyweight belt around the Prince of Cieszyn’s waist on Saturday night.

“When I got up in the Octagon, I put the belt on [Blachowicz] tonight and he turned around, looked at me and said, ‘You don’t believe in me,'” White told the media during the UFC 259 post-fight press conference. “I said, ‘What the f***? What did I do?”

“I’ve done nothing but say good things about the guy,” he continued. “But yeah, he thinks I don’t believe in him.”

White reiterated that he does in fact believe in the 205-pound champion.

“I was stunned,” White continued. “I was like, ‘What? What did I ever say to make you think that I don’t believe in you?'”

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White Weighed-In on Blachowicz vs. Adesanya

White gave his thoughts on the outcome of the UFC 259 main event.

“Listen, [Adeanysa] is the middleweight champ, he doesn’t get the light heavyweight title, he doesn’t fight Jon Jones,” White said during the presser. “But you know what? You can never hurt somebody for thinking big and trying to become great. He gave it a shot tonight, didn’t happen.

“Jan is the man. He is the 205-pound champ and now he starts taking on all-comers in that weight division.”

UFC 259 Results

Here are the full results for the UFC 259 fight card:

Main Card

Light Heavyweight Championship: Jan Blachowicz def. Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision (49–46, 49–45, 49–45)
Women’s Featherweight Championship: Amanda Nunes def. Megan Anderson via first-round submission
Bantamweight Championship: Aljamain Sterling def. Petr Yan via fourth-round DQ
Lightweight: Islam Makhachev def. Drew Dober via third-round submission
Light Heavyweight: Aleksandar Rakic def. Thiago Santos via unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 30–27)

Preliminary Card

Bantamweight: Dominick Cruz def. Casey Kenney via split decision (28–29, 29–28, 30–27)
Bantamweight: Kyler Phillips def. Song Yadong via unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 29–28)
127-Pound Catchweight: Askar Askarov def. Joseph Benavidez via unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–26)
Flyweight: Kai Kara France def. Rogerio Bontorin via first-round TKO

Early Preliminary Card

Flyweight: Tim Elliott def. Jordan Espinosa  via unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–25)
Light Heavyweight:  Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Carlos Ulberg via second-round KO
Welterweight: Sean Brady def. Jake Matthews via third-round submission
Women’s Strawweight: Amanda Lemos def. Livinha Souza via first-round TKO
Lightweight: Uros Medic def. Aalon Cruz via first-round TKO
Bantamweight: Trevin Jones def. Mario Bautista via second-round TKO

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