Chicago Bulls Future
Injuries are a part of the game in any sport. Sometimes, the injury bug strikes some teams harder than others in any particular season. Particularly this year with the Covid-19 health and safety protocols. Teams are forced to play short handed night in and night out for weeks in some cases. However, the Chicago Bulls have been snake bit by the injury bug for the past few seasons and injuries have hindered their ability to develop young talent on the roster.
Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. in particular have dealt with injuries for the entirety of their young careers. With the Bulls being a young, rebuilding team, it is imperative to have their players healthy in order to develop their skills individually but also as a unit. Since the Bulls went into a rebuild phase after trading away Jimmy Butler in 2017, they have acquired a number of young players. The core of this young, rebuilding roster is centered around Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, and Wendell Carter Jr.
These core 4 players have not been able to develop chemistry with one another due to their inability to stay healthy enough in order to play enough games with each other. Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. are the two players whom the injury bug has bitten more often than not.
Going into the 2020–21 campaign, a new head coach and a new vibe around the organization has made many fans optimistic about the future of the Chicago Bulls. However, the injury bug has struck again. Both Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen will be out for the next month or two with injuries. Markkanen in particular is in a contract year. It was well known that the Bulls and Markkanen were unable to come to a contract extension prior to the season and now it is up to Lauri to prove to the Bulls organization that he is worth an extension.
Markkanen was playing very well prior to his most recent injury. He suffered a minor injury earlier on this season which kept him out a few games, but his new shoulder injury will keep him off the floor for the next month at least. An unwelcome sight for Bulls fans and the team as a whole. Wendell Carter Jr. suffered his quad injury a couple weeks ago and will be out for the next month plus as well. Both of the young front court players for the Bulls that the new coaching staff is looking to evaluate and develop will miss significant time yet again.
Since Wendell Carter Jr. was drafted a year after Markkanen, the Bulls have played 169 games. Of those 169 games, Wendell Carter Jr. has played in 101 while Markkanen has played in 116. The two young Bulls have only played 69 games together. That is far from what the Bulls had envisioned when putting this young roster together. Again, you cannot control injuries, but when a coaching staff does not have a large enough sample size to evaluate its young talent individually and as a unit, it is tough to determine what the future holds.
Markkanen and Carter Jr. have been involved in trade rumors over the past two seasons. The Bulls front office will have to make a tough decision on what to do leading up to the NBA’s trade deadline in late March. We could see a major shake up around this Bulls roster at the deadline or heading into the 2021–22 season.