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Bulls Injuries Give Wendell Carter Jr. Opportunity to Shine

Bulls rookie Wendell Carter Jr. faced a gauntlet of touch matchups in his first few NBA games. Now it’s time for him to seize a great opportunity.

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bulls injuries give wendell carter opportunity shine

Bulls rookie Wendell Carter Jr. hasn’t had the best start to his NBA career, but with the injury bug striking in Chicago, the 19-year-old big man may get more opportunities on the floor.

Just a couple weeks into the Bulls 2018-19 season, the team is 2-4 and plagued with injuries. Lauri Markkanen injured his elbow in late September, and is still expected to miss another 2-4 weeks. Any betting fan would say 4 weeks is more likely, given how important he is to the organization. Denzel Valentine is once again fighting a bad ankle. Kris Dunn played just one game before spraining his MCL with an estimated 4-6 week recovery ahead. Most recently, Bobby Portis injured his knee in a matchup against the Hornets and is also expected miss 4-6 weeks. All terrible news. But the injuries to Lauri and Bobby should provide more opportunities for Carter to showcase his talent.

Every NBA rookie has their “welcome to the league” moment, and Carter’s lasted for a whole week. Carter had a slow start, averaging just 6.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in 24.8 minutes over his first four games. However, the matchups he faced in his first week in the NBA were far from easy. He’s already tangled against elite big men such as Joel Embiid, Andre Drummond, and DeAndre Jordan. Yes, he’s the 7th overall pick, but no one should expect a teenager to be able to put up his summer league numbers against All-Star centers in his first week.

Many Bulls players will feel the need to impress not just the coaching staff, but the people who doubted them. Both Jabari Parker and Zach LaVine are trying overcome their ACL injuries and prove they are worth the money the team gave them. Portis was ready to break out as a potential 6th Man of the Year candidate before his injury. Dunn wants to silence the people who questioned his work ethic back in the summer. Cameron Payne, Antonio Blakeney, Ryan Arcidiacono, and other young Bulls are competing for minutes in Fred Hoiberg’s crowded backcourt rotation.

The bench players know that the team lacks a solidified rotation. Whenever they step onto the floor, they’re looking to showcase their abilities. Playing alongside players like this makes it easy for a reserved and humble player like Carter to hide in the shadows. Ever since the Bulls drafted Carter in June, he has made it clear that he wants to win. Sometimes you have to question whether these Bulls players are playing to win or for a spot in the rotation. The Bulls’ recent injuries give Carter the chance he needs to establish himself as a respected force in this league and a staple of this roster.

However, Carter must take some of the blame. There’s no doubt that his lackluster numbers are at least partially a result of his poor play. He’s shooting 40.9% from the field and has struggled from the free throw line, making six of ten attempts through his first 6 games. It’s a small sample size, but it’s obvious that the confidence and aggressive mentality he played with in the summer league isn’t there. His more passive style of play could be a result of players like LaVine and Parker wanting to get their touches, but eventually Carter will have to play like the player we drafted him to be.

The Bulls didn’t intend on drafting a role-playing big man, and they were lucky to have Carter fall in their lap. Hopefully the silver lining to these multiple injuries is Carter seizing the opportunity he needs to be successful in the NBA.

My name is Ben Repay and I am a sophomore studying Mass Communications at Purdue University. I've always been an avid Chicago sports fan and look forward to talking all things Bulls with you guys.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Linda Hildman

    November 4, 2018 at 2:15 am

    I enjoyed the line of thinking you have for Wendell Carter Jr. let’s hope he can live up to the expectation!

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Wendell Carter Jr.’s season is probably over with surgery recommended

Less than 24 hours ago, Carter was expected to play in Saturday’s matchup against the Miami Heat. Now, Carter will likely need surgery on his left thumb with a recovery time of 8-12 weeks.

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Wendell Carter Jr.'s rookie season is likely over after surgery is needed to his left thumb - Locked On Bulls

Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys spend the first segment of the show talking about the last leg of the road trip from hell and the ninth consecutive loss in Denver. For the breaking news on Wendell Carter Jr.’s injury, fast forward to 48:52 mark. According to the Chicago Tribune, Wendell Carter Jr. is being recommended surgery on his left thumb he injured in Tuesday night’s game that would keep him out 8-12 weeks likely ending his season.

Locked On Bulls discusses how the Denver Nuggets coming into this game were at the top of the Western Conference as one of the best teams in all of basketball. Jim Boylen and his Bulls made little to no adjustments to their game and were blown out in the third quarter.

The guys discuss how Lauri Markkanen’s impressive first quarter was overshadowed by another embarrassing loss mixed little effort and awful game planning. The guys break down some advanced analytics during the Bulls nine-game losing streak and how this possibly could get worse.

The guys spend some time taking voicemails from Bulls fans to end the show, you can interact with Locked On Bulls at (331)-979-1369 or on Twitter @LockedOnBulls. First voicemail asks the guys about how the players need to start taking more accountability for their performances. The guys discuss how LaVine and Dunn have ghosted on this road trip, the inability to get to the free throw line, and the terrible offensive first quarters under Jim Boylen.

Second voicemail details a Bulls fan who no longer believing in Kris Dunn as the starting point guard of the future. The guys describe how Dunn’s play has lacked over during the road trip, since his return from injury, and why all of a sudden it seems like his mentality is to score first rather than to facilitate? Has he been worse for LaVine and Markkanen’s development or all of these guys just trying to do it themselves? The last voicemail asks the guys who the front office will choose if it comes down to Zach LaVine vs. Jim Boylen if their relationship continues to crumble.

The final 10-minutes of the show is dedicated to the breaking news of Wendell Carter Jr. potentially missing the rest of the season. How will this affect the Bulls on the floor and are the Bulls cursed? All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.

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Bulls finding out trade market is scarce for Robin Lopez, Jabari Parker?

The Bulls have been adamant about not taking on long-term money, so the market for Jabari Parker has become increasingly thin. Lopez wants a buyout.

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Bulls finding out trade market is scarce for Lopez, Parker - Locked On Bulls

Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys kick off the show talking about the Bulls matchup tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers. The guys also focus their conversation on the Bulls unwillingness to buyout Robin Lopez at this point, looking to trade him for assets.

Just how bad have the Lakers been since LeBron James’ injury 10 games ago? Jordan Maly and Matt Peck discuss some of the advanced analytics behind the Lakers struggles. Some of the surprises include the Lakers being one of the best defensive teams in all of basketball yet being the worst offensive team in the same stretch. Will the pressure to win tonight by Lakers coach Luke Walton be at all time high and can the Bulls steal one on the road to boost morale?

The second half of the show dives deeper into the situation surrounding center Robin Lopez. In the past few days, reports have surfaced that Robin Lopez and his agent have been working with the Bulls to find a deal to either move or buy him out.

This all comes with a new storyline yesterday about a heated practice, exchange with point guard Kris Dunn. The guys discuss why buying out Lopez right now doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Bulls but come trade deadline if they do not find a deal, they should part ways. The guys also talk about Jabari Parker’s trade value, his potential upgrade to backup power forward, Lopez’s reduction in minutes, Patrick McCaw Cavaliers story, and some quick hits on NBA Draft prospects. All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.

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Rock bottom of the NBA: Bulls midseason review

The Bulls hit the halfway point in Portland, cap off the weekend with losses to the Warriors and Jazz.

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Bulls midseason review feels a whole lot like rock bottom - Locked On Bulls

It’s safe to say the Bulls’ season has been nothing short of abysmal.

The team hit the halfway mark on Wednesday night in a 124-112 loss to the Trailblazers. The loss was the Bulls’ 31st in just 41 games. This means that through half an NBA season you can count the total number of Bulls’ wins on two hands. The last time this happened was when a guy named Fred Hoiberg scored 4.4 points per game for the post-dynasty team back in 2001.

The Bulls followed up their loss in Portland with an absolutely ugly loss in Oakland to Klay Thompson and the Warriors. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson combined for 80 points on 60-percent shooting, handing the Bulls a 146-109 loss.

After a 5-19 start, the Bulls’ front office fired Fred Hoiberg, replacing him with Jim Boylen. Hoiberg coached 24 games for the team, and Boylen has coached 19.

The argument that Hoiberg didn’t get a chance with a healthy roster is a valid one. What kind of record did the front office expect to see with a lineup filled with injured players? Despite Hoiberg’s lack of success with the team, his firing was untimely and insensitive. Nonetheless, Hoiberg was gone and the team landed his polar opposite in Boylen.

Boylen’s first week as Bulls head coach had fans crying for Hoiberg back, and rightfully so. In Boylen’s third game as head coach, the Bulls suffered their worst loss in franchise history. In the third quarter of the game, Boylen pulled all five of his starters at the same time. He claimed Gregg Popovich used the tactic before when Boylen coached under him in San Antonio. Players were furious to say the least with one player, according to Yahoo Sports saying, “They aren’t the Spurs and, more importantly, he isn’t Popovich.”

To make matters worse, Boylen called for a two-and-a-half-hour Sunday practice the day after the loss. Players, according to multiple sources, started a group text to make sure no players went to practice.

The Bulls became the latest soap opera of professional sports and the laughing stock of the NBA.

However, it wasn’t just the coaching that was subject to change. The front office rang in the new year by sending Justin Holiday to Memphis in exchange for two future second-round picks, MarShon Brooks, and Wayne Selden. Later that day, the team made the decision to waive Cameron Payne. It’s good to know that some good came out of this season.

Don’t think I forgot about the highest-paid Bulls player, Jabari Parker. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the $20 million a year athlete requested to be traded from his hometown back in mid-December. Parker was removed from the Bulls’ rotation in early December and was given his first real opportunity under Jim Boylen last night in Utah. It remains to be seen if the Bulls will find a trade partner willing to take Parker or if they will buy him out after the deadline passes.

The thing is, just halfway through the first season of his two-year deal, the Bulls’ highest-paid player looks disconnected and better served somewhere other than his hometown team.

So much goes on with this team off the court that you would forget they play basketball.

Despite just 10 wins in 41 games, the team is healthier than it has been all season. Zach LaVine is having the best season of his career, Lauri Markkanen is averaging 16.5-points in 20 games, and Kris Dunn‘s offensive numbers are up in just about every category. Wendell Carter Jr. has been the Bulls most reliable defensive players this season and while he hasn’t been an offensive firepower he has shown enough flash to be excited about what’s to come.

This season is over for the Bulls in terms of competing, but they can still find ways to get better for the future. Although there hasn’t been much of any success, many of these young players will play together for years to come.

Everyone knows who the best scorer is, who can rebound, but no one knows who the Bulls are as a basketball team. They’ll never go anywhere without some type of identity. If they can’t prove to themselves that they are legit, they’ll continue to be seen as nothing more than a bottom feeder.

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