Chicago Bulls All-Star G Zach LaVine is expected to miss several games after being placed in health and safety protocols on Thursday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. LaVine has been in the midst of a breakout season despite the Bulls on course to miss the playoffs again. Chicago has lost four games in a row and things won’t get any easier without the leading scorer. LaVine is expected to miss 10-14 days, so at the very least he’ll miss the next six games.
LaVine entered Thursday ranked 7th in the NBA in scoring at 27.5 points per game. He also ranks 6th among guards in shooting percentage from the field at 50.6 on the season while ranking 23rd in 3-point percentage at 41.6. At 22-32, the Bulls have fallen to 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 4.0 games back of the Indiana Pacers for the 9th seed, which would get them into the play-in tournament.
The Bulls made a play at the deadline and acquired C Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic. The idea was to pair the All-Star big with another All-Star in LaVine to create a dynamic duo. This hasn’t panned out thus far. The Bulls have gone 3-8 since acquiring Vucevic after appearing on track to have a shot at the postseason. LaVine was still putting up big numbers despite the move. He was averaging 27.5 points, 6.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game in April. Now it’s unclear if he’ll return.
So how do the Bulls replace LaVine’s production? They don’t. Vucevic may get a nice boost on offense but it shouldn’t be by much. The big benefactor with LaVine out is second-year guard Coby White, who had been banished to the bench after starting most of the first half of the season. Instead of running the point, White can focus solely on scoring, which actually may help him flourish late in the season. He’d be worth a snag in fantasy basketball season-long with the playoffs in full swing.