LaVine sees playoffs in Bulls' near future

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Bulls' Zach LaVine plays in a game March 15 in Los Angeles. LaVine, who hasn't played in almost three weeks due to a bruised thigh, says a healthy Chicago team will be a playoff contender next year.

    The Bulls' Zach LaVine plays in a game March 15 in Los Angeles. LaVine, who hasn't played in almost three weeks due to a bruised thigh, says a healthy Chicago team will be a playoff contender next year. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/6/2019 7:58 PM

As the Bulls' season winds down with the last few meaningless games, Zach LaVine thinks a playoff run will arrive next year if the team has better luck with injuries.

"Yeah, automatically. There's no reason you shouldn't think that," he said before Saturday's game against Philadelphia. "I think we have enough of a talent level. There's a lot of things we need to do better, but just talent-wise on paper, I don't see a lot of teams better than us in the East. I think we should be a playoff team."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

There were some good signs this season. LaVine took a step forward as a go-to scorer with all-star potential. Lauri Markkanen had a six-week stretch of playing at an elite level. And Otto Porter Jr. seemed to be a great fit after arriving in a trade from Washington. But the Bulls never strung together much success, as proven by their 22-win total heading into Saturday's action.

LaVine talked about his plans for the summer and what he'll try to accomplish.

"I want to continue to be consistent, somebody who can pretty much stamp in and know what you're going to get from them on a daily basis," he said. "I think the biggest thing in the NBA is consistency.

"Obviously, I have to look at my defense. I've always felt like I've been a really good individual defender, but off the ball, I think I have to put a lot more effort into that and being more focused on that. I think that will help the team a lot more.

"Offensively, there's a lot of things I can do better -- try to get to the line more consistently, slow down a little bit more on my turnovers. I think I was doing pretty well in playmaking this year."

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Locked on fourth:

The Bulls are officially locked into the NBA's fourth-worst record. That means they'll have a 12.5-percent chance to land the No. 1 pick at the May 14 draft lottery, and could choose anywhere from No. 1 to 8.

"Our draft position or order hasn't been something that I've focused on," coach Jim Boylen said Saturday. "I know other people are and need to be. I'm focused on playing the right way, owning our performances and honoring our principles.

"Our draft pick is hopefully going to be in that range. Maybe we get a break. It can happen. In the meantime, we're just worried about developing the guys who are playing and trying to coach them as hard as I can and give them everything I have."

Bull horns:

Boylen said he spoke to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo on Saturday morning before the Final Four. Boylen spent a couple years as an assistant on Izzo's staff. "He's jacked up. I'm so happy for him," Boylen said. … Two-way player Rawle Alkins got his first NBA start on Saturday. "I thought he played well in Washington," Boylen said. "He's a tough kid, (so) give him a shot at it."

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