I know Wendell Carter Jr. has had maybe more than his fair share of injuries in his young career (which is particularly frustrating given his obvious upside), but they continue to be mostly unrelated, fluky occurrences.
And unfortunately, a mid-practice collision with Denzel Valentine has resulted in a right quad contusion that’ll keep him out of tonight’s game against the Hornets.
Patrick Williams is available for tonight's game vs. Charlotte.
Wendell Carter Jr. is OUT tonight (quad). pic.twitter.com/H4VkPZ55Vl
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 22, 2021
But that’s the bad news.
The good news is that the rookie, Patrick Williams, is returning to action – and presumably the starting lineup – tonight after missing Monday’s tilt against the Rockets with a hip contusion. He’s joined by Tomas Satoransky and Chandler Hutchison, who are both on track to play, as well.
Although we’re still plenty early in the season and any serious hopes for the playoffs are more about demonstrating internal organizational progress than actually contending for the 2021 NBA Finals, the Hornets (6-8) are tied with the Bulls (6-8) in the standings at the moment, and I would very much like to beat them because of that.
However, as Eli pointed out earlier this week when Carter’s absence became a possibility, this is pretty bad timing, all things considered:
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski did report that Charlotte’s Cody Zeller plans to make his return to the court on Friday against Chicago. An aggressive big man, he recorded two double-doubles against the Bulls last season and gave them all kinds of trouble in each of their four matchups. The pressure will now likely be on Daniel Gafford to neutralize the assumingly eager rim-runner (has not played since the Hornets very first game of the season).
And indeed, the Hornets have upgraded Zeller to “probable” for tonight.
So it’ll be incumbent on the Bulls big men to step up tonight, though I suspect they’re up to the task. This team has played short-handed all season long, but has proven an ability to make things work in a pinch. Hopefully, with some of the other returning players, they’ll have enough to notch their first three-game winning streak of the season … which is not something they accomplished even once last year.