Zach LaVine is feeling like himself again and targets an All-Star appearance

Zach LaVine’s fifth season in the NBA will be his biggest season as he’ll aim to justify the Chicago Bulls’ decision to give him a huge contract this summer. 

Despite coming off an ACL injury and playing just 24 games last year, the Bulls re-signed the shooting guard to a four-year, $80 million deal. 

The franchise was widely criticised for its decision and that will place a lot of pressure on LaVine’s shoulders to prove that he was worth the outlay. 

Keeping faith

Chicago certainly believes that the 24-year-old’s best years are ahead of him and will be hoping he can have a breakout campaign. 

They initially acquired the two-time Slam Dunk Contest winner in a trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

He was already injured when they traded for him and he wasn’t the same when he returned last season. 

After such a bad injury, his explosiveness was lacking and his shooting numbers had dipped.

LaVine shot just 38 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range.

But the UCLA product has been working hard in the offseason to get himself in good shape and he feels he’s back to how he was before. 

“I got my speed back, my jumping back,” he told Alex Squadron of SLAM. “Once you get off an ACL injury, you’re lifting and eating.

“So I got up to, like, 210 pounds. I’ve never been that heavy before. I’m not a post-up player. I’m fast, a more athletic guy.

“I got back down to the weight I need to be at [185 pounds], but still I feel strong. I feel really good, man. I’m excited for the season.”

Untimely setback

In 2016-17, he was enjoying a career season before he tore his ACL and posted 18.7 points over 47 games.

The athletic guard was showing gradual improvement before his setback but he now believes he can make that next step as a player and wants to become an All-Star.

“Over the last couple years, I’ve been trying to get better and better and I feel like I’m at the stage now where I should be trying to reach accolades like an All-Star and things like that,” he said.

A healthy LaVine would be a great sight, not just for Bulls fans, but for neutrals too as he’s one of the most exciting players in the league.

But it’ll be interesting to see how he copes with the pressure of having to live up to a big contract.

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