It seems like every game a new Bulls player is going down with an injury. In fact, we better wrap Zach LaVine in bubble wrap for the remainder of the season. With all of these key players going down, the Bulls are going to dig deep into their bench for the next few months.
Right now, the Bulls have four players on the shelf: Lauri Markkanen, Denzel Valentine, Kris Dunn, and Bobby Portis. All four of these players are looking at a minimum of four weeks left on the self, Valentine could be back soon, and if anyone else goes down, the Bulls could start a whole new team just with injuries. With all of these players going down, you have to look at the positives though, like the emergence of Zach LaVine and how Hoiberg has navigated adversity.
Zach LaVine may not be a LeBron James or Kevin Durant, but is proving he can be a All-Star in this league. A few years removed from an ACL injury, he looks like he never had surgery on his knee, and could compete in high jump at a track and field event. He has become the leader of the team in just a few games this season, and someone the Bulls are going to lean on all season. If LaVine has to keep up at his current pace he will need a new back after carrying the team all season.
LaVine could easily be the storyline of the season, but people also need to talk about how Hoiberg is managing this team through the early season struggles. The Front Office stated he was their guy, he is the one to bring the Bulls back, but it is hard to see how long they can stick with him. There will be a lot of pressure to try and get some wins under his belt, when his big players come back from injury. On the flip side, it is hard to grade his performance when he is missing four of his best players, and has nobody who can stop the other team from scoring. When you give up 149 points to any NBA team, you’re going to have some explaining to do.
What does all of this mean for the Bulls? Well, in short, another long season for the fans. In the long run it means the rebuild could go longer than expected due to some setbacks. Hoiberg could be on the hot seat as the season moves along, but I don’t see any changes coming until at least the offseason. Until then, it will be a long, hard path to being a competitive team again.