This offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers made a blockbuster trade that will change the future of the franchise. They acquired Lonzo Ball, a heralded point guard prospect from UCLA, in exchange for a package that included Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and a few more highly touted players. Ball’s skill and potential are without question, and he’s slated to take over the reigns of the Lakers’ starting lineup. But while he may be the face of the franchise, he’s also accompanied by another highly touted prospect, fellow point guard, Zach LaVine.
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in the NBA with a long history of winning, but they haven’t had as much fun as the duo of former UCLA guard Lonzo Ball and UCLA guard Zach LaVine.
“We went from over-hyped high school kids to potential franchise-changing NBA players” is the opening line of a piece written by Bryan Armen Graham, who argues that Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine will be “one of the most exciting duos in the NBA” in a few years
The Chicago Bulls have already signed former UCLA standout Lonzo Ball to partner with Zach LaVine in the first 24 hours of this year’s NBA free agency season. Despite the fact that the NBA as a whole seemed to have turned against Ball during his first two years with the Los Angeles Lakers, he has partially rebuilt himself with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Ball is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game. He also hit 3.1 three-pointers per game on 38.7% shooting, both career highs. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Bulls jumped at the chance to sign him to a four-year, $85 million contract.
Lonzo Ball’s new four-year contract with the Bulls demonstrates how far he’s come since leaving the Lakers.
Rich Paul, CEO of Klutch Sports, says @TheAthletic @Stadium that Lonzo Ball has agreed to a four-year, $85 million contract with the Chicago Bulls.
2 August 2021 — Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania)
The Bulls have quietly started to construct a more competitive team now that Ball has signed a contract extension for the next several seasons.
LaVine is coming off a season in which he was selected to his first All-Star Game, and the Bulls made a big move at the 2020 trade deadline when they acquired multi-time All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. Even without Ball, the Bulls were building up to be a club that would be able to compete in the playoffs in the future.
Circling back to LaVine, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he’s not currently thrilled at the idea of playing alongside Ball moving forward. While LaVine has had a ton of success in recent years operating as the Bull’s de-facto point guard (due to how much he was handling the basketball), the addition of Ball should take a ton of stress off him when it comes to creating offense. Ball is already one of the league’s top passers, something that makes life easier for everyone.
The Bulls’ lightning-quick bursts of fast-break offense, led by LaVine and Ball, should provide plenty of ESPN-worthy moments this season. LaVine isn’t quite as explosive and strong as Zion Williamson, but he’s certainly as bouncy. Moving ahead, the Ball-to-LaVine lobs should be a lot of fun.
During their time together in New Orleans, Ball had a lot of success throwing the ball up near the basket for Zion, and LaVine is a two-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner. It’s not difficult to see why this will be a successful collaboration.
This season, the Bulls’ fast-break attack should be one of the best in the NBA.
Zach LaVine has yet to sign a long-term contract extension with Chicago, preferring to wait and see how the next season unfolds before committing to stay in Illinois. Nonetheless, early indications are that he will see this through.
The Bulls have remained active in their pursuit of win-now players, and one can only presume that they will do so again at the trade deadline this year.
Alex Caruso, a former Laker with a penchant for highlight-reel dunks, was signed by the Bulls. The front office has obviously bought into the concept of building a squad around a number of great players.
In 2021, Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball should be able to take the Bulls to the playoffs.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 01: Lonzo Ball #2 of the New Orleans Pelicans celebrates after scoring in the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 1, 2021. | Getty Images/Harrison Barden
As Chicago navigates through this year’s free agency season, further changes may be in the cards.
Nonetheless, the Bulls have assembled a team that should keep them competitive in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. At the top, LaVine, Ball, and Vucevic are a formidable three, with Coby White, Patrick Williams, DeMar DeRozan, and Caruso filling in as strong supporting players.
Only time will tell whether the Bulls have what it takes to make a postseason push this season. At the very least, the LaVine-Ball relationship should be entertaining to watch throughout the season.
Expect a lot of spectacular dunks and alley-oops from the two of them – think Los Angeles Clippers “Lob City” vibes.
Basketball Reference provided all stats.
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