LaVine scoring with ease, but still plans to improve defense

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bulls' Zach LaVine advances the ball during an NBA preseason basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in Chicago.

    Chicago Bulls' Zach LaVine advances the ball during an NBA preseason basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in Chicago.

 
 
Updated 10/14/2019 9:07 PM

A season-long storyline for the Bulls -- well, at least until February -- will be whether Zach LaVine can make his first NBA all-star appearance at the United Center when the game returns to Chicago for the first time since 1988.

So far, so good. LaVine has basically scored at will during preseason. In two of the three games, the Bulls haven't faced the opposing team's starters, so take this with a grain of salt, but LaVine is averaging 23.3 points in 23.8 minutes, while shooting 56% from the field.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I've put the work in. I expect myself to play this way," LaVine said Monday at the Advocate Center. "I played pretty darn good last year. I'm going to take it a step in the next direction this year. I feel like I've been doing a lot better defensively. I feel like I've been communicating defensively and have been in all the right spots."

LaVine averaged 23.7 points last season, which ranked 16th in the league. Moving well into the top 10 seems to be a realistic goal for LaVine. He's improved his scoring average by at least 4 points three times in the last four seasons.

"That's what I put the work in for," LaVine said. "I don't spend three hours in the gym to be a good player in the league. I do that so I can be a star. That's what I see myself as."

White finds hoop

Rookie Coby White is the Bulls' second-leading scorer in preseason at 16.8 points per game. His shot selection needs work and his assist total is low, but White looks like a guy who should be able to come off the bench and score some points this season.

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"He seems to have a knack to be open," coach Jim Boylen said Monday. "He seems to have an ability to find the open window, to get to the right spot. He has very good discernment in our half-court situations.

"He keeps putting up the numbers he's doing, he probably won't be open as much (because defenses will adjust). Things will probably change for him. I also give that second group, the way they've played; Kris Dunn finding people, the pace he's played at has helped Coby and helped that group. I also think our team has player-coached Coby well. They help him. They talk to him. They push him. It's cool, it's really cool."

Boylen's second five in Toronto included White, Dunn, Thad Young, Luke Kornet and Ryan Arcidiacono.

Harrison almost ready

According to coach Jim Boylen, Shaq Harrison returned to practice Monday. He's been out for most of training camp with a hamstring injury. Forward Chandler Hutchison remains sidelined with a hamstring issue.

"Shaq was full go today. I pulled him out at the end, saw what I need to see," Boylen said. "His movement was great, his energy was great. Otto (Porter) played about two-thirds of the practice, so that was great. Hutch was out.

"At the end we had a scrimmage using our G-league guys to get Wendell (Carter) some minutes, some reps; to get his conditioning back up."

Carter made his preseason debut against Toronto, playing 17 minutes, after missing the first three games with a bruised tailbone.

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