Otto Porter Jr. aside, the Bulls starting core has stayed surprisingly healthy this season.
Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. have all started the team’s first 36 games, and according to The Score’s Jeff Mangurten, that the first time four players have done so since the 1990-91 season.
However, the streak could be snapped tonight against the Dallas Mavericks due to Lauri Markkanen’s ankle injury. On Saturday night, the big man took a tumble while fighting for a rebound with Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart. Markkanen ended up leaving the game, and yesterday was listed as “doubtful” for Monday night’s showdown.
K.C. Johnson then reported this morning that Markkanen woke up feeling a bit better, and said he’ll warm up with the team before deciding whether or not he can take the floor – thus changing his status to questionable.
Bulls have upgraded Markkanen from doubtful to questionable vs. Mavs.
He did not participate in morning shootaround but said he will warm up to see how ankle feels.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 6, 2020
If he isn’t feeling up for the challenge though, Boylen said Thaddeus Young will start in his place (which, yeah, duh).
A Markkanen absence would drop the Bulls already poor chances at a win down a peg. While the team’s defense has somehow found its way atop the league leaderboards, if the Bulls want to even think about walking away with a win tonight, the expectation will have to be to keep up offensively. The Mavericks hold the No. 1 offensive rating in the NBA compared to the Bulls No. 28. Take away Markkanen, the team’s second-leading scorer, and scoring more than Dallas feels almost impossible.
Zach LaVine would need to drop 40+ and Kris Dunn would have to do this again:
Kris Dunn scored a career-high 32 points in Dallas in 2018.
We take on the Mavericks tonight at 7:30 pm CT. pic.twitter.com/qoaktRtmrd
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 6, 2020
In other news, the Bulls should at least be adding to their wing depth tonight. Johnson reported that Chandler Hutchison will be active for tonight’s game, meaning it could be the first action he sees since November 29th when he hurt his shoulder against the Golden State Warriors.
Considering the Bulls’ biggest issue has been scoring the basketball (not Hutchison’s specialty), a return doesn’t seem all that encouraging. Now, Hutchison did provide a solid spark during some of his starts earlier this season, and I suppose if he can finally stay healthy, maybe he can establish some kind of offensive rhythm moving forward. He has the explosiveness and aggressiveness for some tough drives to the hoop, plus, his 3-point shooting is at least a tad better than what we saw earlier this season. Not crossing my fingers, but maybe he’ll surprise us (the rest of this season is just built on hope).
I mean, he did do this.
I know it was the G-League, but still cool.