The Chicago Bulls have rattled off four consecutive wins to open the 2021-22 season and sit atop the NBA as one of three undefeated teams. Moving forward, though, their star guard, Zach LaVine, will be compromised in some capacity. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, LaVine “has a small ligament tear in the thumb of his non-shooting hand.” However, Charania reported that LaVine “intends to play through the injury” and “it’s a matter of pain tolerance.”
Bulls All-Star Zach LaVine has a small ligament tear in the thumb of his non-shooting hand but intends to play through the injury, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. It’s a matter of pain tolerance and LaVine wants to play as Chicago starts the season 4-0.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 27, 2021
K.C. Johnson of NBCSports Chicago reported “LaVine underwent an MRI on his left thumb on the Bulls’ off-day Tuesday” and noted that he “was wincing and shaking this hand after taking a whack on it during the Raptors game.”
After notching his first All-Star berth last season, the explosive eighth-year wing was off to another prolific start, averaging 25.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists on 64.4 percent true shooting (.500/.444/.952) through four contests.
Although this injury is far from ideal, the Bulls are better equipped to mitigate its impact than they were in previous seasons after bolstering the roster over the past seven months. Nikola Vucevic is off to a slow start, but he’s an All-Star creator and DeMar DeRozan was also brought in to ease LaVine’s scoring burden. Fellow free-agent signees Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso can also conduct the offense in certain situations.
To open the year, LaVine had played off the ball significantly more than in prior seasons and this injury suggests that could remain the case or even increase for the time being as his thumb heals.