Say it with me: It’s just the preseason, it’s just the preseason, it’s just the preseason, it’s just the preseason …
The new-look Chicago Bulls will take the floor for the first time tonight with a matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center. While most of the big names should be on the floor, the Bulls do look as if they will be without four projected rotation players.
Joining Patrick Williams (ankle sprain) and Coby White (shoulder) on the injury report is high-flyer Derrick Jones Jr. and back-up center Tony Bradley. Both players are currently listed as doubtful for tonight’s contest, with Jones dealing with an ankle injury and Bradley suffering back tightness.
May not be able to read much into Billy Donovan’s rotation for preseason opener. Besides Patrick Williams and Coby White being out, Tony Bradley (lower left back strain) and Derrick Jones Jr. (sprained left ankle) are listed as doubtful.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 5, 2021
Fortunately, ESPN’s updated NBA injury report lists both players as day-to-day, and considering each has only a “doubtful” designations for tonight, it appears we are not looking at anything too serious. I also have to imagine that since this is only the first preseason contest, the organization could feel more inclined to give someone with a minor bump or bruise the night off.
With that said, we’re still looking at valuable missed time. Jones is someone many expected to play backup four minutes to Patrick Williams this season, and his availability has become that much more important due to Williams’ own ankle injury. Meanwhile, Tony Bradey is expected to carry a substantial workload for the Bulls all year, as he is the only other experienced center behind Nikola Vucevic on the 15-man roster. Chicago’s frontcourt is already the weakest section of its roster, so the coaching staff is going to have to hope this is nothing more than a one-game scare.
If Jones and Bradley do miss tonight’s game, that will at least open the door for several players on the back of the Bulls bench. Alize Johnson and Stanley Johnson should each get their shot to play minutes at the power forward position. Likewise, the expectation should be that Marko Simonovic gets a lot of run underneath the basket. Training camp invites like Tyler Cook and Daniel Oturu could also eat up time in the frontcourt. So … yeah … if we are looking for a positive spin, I guess it’s that this front office and Donovan should have more film to evaluate as they try to decide the team’s final two roster spots.