Wendell Returning Sooner Than Expected? Coby White's Momentum, Time Changes, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Wendell Returning Sooner Than Expected? Coby White’s Momentum, Time Changes, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Sometimes I wonder how hard it would be to just … ya know … do a backflip. Like, how many times would I have to practice before pulling it off? Also, where do I practice such a thing? Do I need to buy a trampoline? Because I don’t think that will be (1) a practical addition to my apartment or (2) very pleasing for the people who live below me. Maybe it’s possible that pure adrenaline alone would carry me through it, especially on the hardwood floor where the risk of injury is high.

Anyway, I’ll put a pin in that. Let’s talk about basketball things.

•   Hm … the Bulls have upgraded Wendell Carter Jr. to doubtful on their most recent injury report. While I know this isn’t some kind of massive status change, it still feels far earlier than expected. The team announced on January 26th that he would be re-evaluated for a severe quad contusion in four weeks, so we’re roughly still two weeks out from the medical staff providing an update. However, if we combine this news with Billy Donovan’s comments prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Pelicans, it feels like an early return could actually be on the horizon. According to NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer, the Bulls head coach said Carter Jr. “continues to progress in a very positive way,” and the team’s starter was on the court during shoot around getting some shots up. I’m not going to get my hopes up, but this is certainly the way we’d like to see things trend.

•   As for the here and now, the Bulls will head into their tough matchup with the Clippers in a normal depleted fashion. Fortunately, it does appear they will miss superstar Paul George, who will miss his fourth-straight game with a toe injury.

•   The Bulls last game against the Clippers was only a two-point loss, and that also happened to come without Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter on the court. Additionally, Carter Jr. played only ~26 minutes in a rather meh all-around effort. I’m not trying to say that I expect the same kind of “wow” performance tonight, but I do think it is at least somewhat useful that this team is familiar with playing this squad short-handed. It also can’t hurt that the offense is coming off one of its most explosive performances in years. The team’s franchise record-breaking 25 3-pointers behind a combined 76 points from Coby White and Zach LaVine could be the spark this team needs to post a solid finish to their first-half schedule. FWIW here are the remaining games before the All-Star break: Clippers, Pacers, Hornets, 76ers, Kings, Rockets, Timberwolves, Suns, Raptors, Nuggets, Pelicans. Build on momentum, and there are some winnable games in that mix.

•   If the Bulls stand any chance at picking up those wins, though, they will need White to avoid falling off the tracks. The second-year guard broke out of his slump in a big way against the Pelicans with 30 points and eight 3-pointers. He looked much more comfortable and confident on the offensive end, hunting shots and working off what his teammates gave him. Let’s see if he can do it again tonight.

•   ESPN’s Zach Lowe touched on this topic in his latest “Ten NBA Things I Like and don’t Like …” column in a section he titled “The Mystery of Coby White.” He expressed concern in White’s ability to play the lead guard role, but he also didn’t rule out the possibility of the 20-year-old developing into the position. I think one important note he made is that White’s 5.5 assists per game isn’t all too bad alongside LaVine who is the team’s “co-lead orchestrator.” I think the idea of these two being a bucket-getting tandem needs to come back into the fold a bit, especially with the frontcourt injuries the Bulls are dealing with right now. We got a little too hung up on White becoming a more traditional ball distributor, but that’s just not who he is. The playmaking job should really be on the backcourt as a whole (for now) so that this team gets the most out of White and LaVine on the offensive end.

•   Lowe and ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz talk LaVine’s All-Star potential, and both seem to agree he should be in the running for one of the final two spots on the Eastern Conference roster.

•   Some housekeeping:

•   Zion one night, Kawhi the next. You got this, Rook.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.