CHICAGO — The first major injury news of the year for the Chicago Bulls belongs to Wendell Carter Jr. According to the team, Carter suffered a left quad contusion.
INJURY UPDATE: Wendell Carter Jr. will be re-evaluated in four weeks after an MRI confirmed a severe right quad contusion.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 26, 2021
For a team that is struggling defensively, especially in their back-to-back losses to the Lakers and Celtics, this is a big blow. Carter Jr is the team’s best interior defender and easily their best rebounder.
Under Jim Boylen, the Bulls were the worst rebounding team in the league. But in 2020-2021, the Bulls rank 12th, according to TeamRankings.com.
Who Will Start In Place Of Carter Jr?
This could go one of two ways: The first involves starting Daniel Gafford at the five and keeping the other four starters the same, and the other involves starting Thaddeus Young with a mix of starters and veterans.
For the last three games (Hornets, Lakers, Celtics), Head Coach Billy Donovan has used Gafford at the five. But after a disappointing performance from Coby White and Patrick Williams, don’t be surprised to see Young and/or Thomas Satoransky get starting time.
A starting lineup of Thomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, Thaddeus Young, and Lauri Markkanen is a possibility, however, Donovan appears to be committed to the young guys playing together.
Carter’s Injury Boosts Porter’s Trade Value
A name not mentioned above is Otto Porter Jr. With where the Bulls stand as an organization, there is an overwhelming chance that he is traded before the deadline.
Porter will be a very attractive trade piece for contending teams because of his expiring contract and ability to perform at small and power forward. With Carter missing double-digit games over the next month, Porter’s usage is going to see a big increase.
Right now, he averages just over 23 minutes per game. If he hops into the starting rotation, his minutes will likely jump to the 26-29 range.
The former third overall pick will not be a part of the Bulls’ future, so the more minutes he can get to showcase his talents for playoff teams the better.
Wake Up, Markkanen!
Seriously, someone wakes Lauri Markkanen. The 23-year-old has been scoring nicely to start the year, but his aggressiveness on defense and rebounding need to be light years better than what has been shown so far this season.
Without their leading rebounder and arguably best defender, Markkanen has to step up. I mean, come on, you are seven feet tall. If he refuses to play in the paint more, the Bulls should refuse to pay him this summer. I realize stretch big men are the way of the future in the NBA, but a stretch big man that doesn’t play aggressive defense will not do this team any good.
This will be a big opportunity for Markkanen to develop that part of his game. Just imagine how good this Bulls team could be if he could take his defense to the next level. It would be all the difference against eastern conference teams that throw versatile forwards like Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, and Jimmy Butler at you.