LaVine, Bulls benefitting from new coach Donovan’s old approach

Bulls guard Zach LaVine looks to drive vs. the Hornets. -AP

Well, what do you know?

It seems new coach Billy Donovan and the Chicago Bulls are suddenly a team worthy of our attention.

Did you know the Bulls have won three straight, following Friday’s 123-110 hammer job of the Charlotte Hornets?

Did you know they have passed for at least 30 assists in each of the previous four games — topped off by Friday’s 34?

And were you aware that the Bulls (7-8) are suddenly in the mix as one of the Eastern Conference’s top-eight teams?

“Iso ball is gone. Cutting and making the extra pass are here,” K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago opined. “It’s fun. It’s refreshing. It’s aesthetically pleasing to watch.”

That definitely seems to be the case, and even guard Zach LaVine is getting in on the unselfish act. Not that LaVine has ever been selfish. He’s just had to be sort of a lone ranger if the Bulls were to ever have hope.

Anymore, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“It’s me just understanding over the last three years, you can’t do it by yourself,” LaVine told reporters after Friday’s win. “I think I took a step in the right direction over the offseason of looking at how I can try to help my teammates be better.”

For LaVine, it’s all come down to having more faith in the other guys.

“Trusting and having guys healthy also helps a lot,” he said. “When you have a full roster, you’re able not to take breaks but feed the ball more around. I’m just trying to read the game. We’re creating a lot of open shots, so it’s been good.”

Donovan worked miracles last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Who can forget how they traded Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the same offseason — and made the playoffs, anyway.

Everyone just assumed the Thunder were tanking. A lot of people assumed the same about the Bulls. It appears Donovan had other ideas.

“I said from Day One that I think this has got to be a team,” Donovan said.

No less than LaVine concurred.

“You have to buy in. Once everybody does that, it helps the group because everybody can pretty much be accountable. You understand what you need to do,” he said. “It’s pretty much the same team we had last year so we’re all obviously familiar with each other.

“But a lot of it is buying in and not trying to repeat what we’ve been doing over the last couple years. We’ve changed a lot. And our mentality is different.”

For the Bulls, that mentality is suddenly turning into a winning one.

About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico is the founder and senior writer of FortyEight Minutes. He has covered the NBA on a full-time basis for OutKick, Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports, and has been a regular contributor to CBS Sports, the Boston Herald and

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