Friday, June 2, 2023

Nikola Vucevic Joins The Bulls Injury List


Nikola Vucevic sneakily landed on the Bulls’ injury list hours before their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Vucevic (knee) is listed as questionable for the game. His injury came against the Orlando Magic last night after he fell over Wendell Carter Jr., hitting his knee on the floor.

Luckily, swelling and bruising are likely all to come from the contact injury. Opposite that of the Bulls’ other knee injuries this season like Lonzo Ball (partially torn meniscus), Zach LaVine (knee swelling) and Derrick Jones Jr. (hyperextension).

Relative to the game against the Thunder, LaVine is now questionable. He missed the Bulls’ last five games, exiting early in the first quarter of their detrimental loss to the Golden State Warriors ten days ago.

Javonte Green is also questionable. The Bulls could use the energetic, try-to-dunk-on-everyone forward back in the starting lineup. He last played on Dec. 31, missing the last 12 contests.

On the subject of Vucevic, his injury comes with thoughts on his recent play. He has struggled mightily this season, with inconsistent shooting highlighting the disappointing first half of the year.

His last five games are exemplary of his erratic offensive play. Against Boston and Cleveland in the past five games, he combined to sink 23 field goals on 41 shots, tallying 51 combined points over those two games.

Sandwiched between those was a seven-point, 2-of-13 outing against the Grizzlies. Following that was Sunday night’s performance against the Magic, where Vucevic scored 13 points on 4-of-19 shooting, including 2-of-8 shooting from deep.

On top of his offensive struggles, he admitted that his defense was lackadaisical. He centrally allowed Carter Jr. to score 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting and Mo Wagner to score 23 points off the bench on 9-of-13 shooting.

Carter and Wagner represent two players the Bulls jettisoned for Vucevic last season.

“The shooting is part of the game,” Vucevic said. “I was more disappointed in my focus defensively. Some of the things I’ve been pretty good at so far this year — getting back, going for pump fakes, not being in the right position in pick-and-rolls, and things like that. There are so many ways for me to impact the game and I didn’t bring the energy and focus tonight that I needed to help us win the game.”



He has no excuse for his performance, and he knows it. Early this season, he even received a two-game, one-week break from playing games due to the postponements of the Raptors and Pistons’ games from the Bulls’ outbreak of Covid-19.

But, he’s failed to get back to his old self.

Could injury make things worse? Maybe. If he can’t practice and is forced to sit out, it could affect his rhythm on the court.

On the other hand, he has no rhythm on the court. His inability to put down shots, especially over substandard centers, is ridiculous.

With all the hope in the world that Vucevic’s recovery from his knee injury is speedy and effective, the hope is his rejuvenation on both sides of the floor follows the same expeditious path.

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