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What to Make of Zach LaVine’s Injury, Another National TV Appearance, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

And here I was ready to gush about how the Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, and Chicago Bulls were the only undefeated teams in the NBA.

WHY MUST YOU HATE US, BASKETBALL GODS!?

•   The Zach LaVine injury news is a bigger buzzkill than Eeyore at a rave. The Chicago Bulls were 4-0 for the first time in 25 years, and then a tiny ligament threw a massive wrench into the early-season outlook. Yes, it’s good news that ESPN’s Jamal Collier confirmed the Bulls do not think LaVine’s insistence on playing through the injury will cause further damage, but that does not mean enough damage is not already done. No matter how small the ligament tear might be, LaVine is still surely set to feel a nagging pain. How he deals with this pain will be a key storyline to follow over the next handful of games. After all, while the injury might be to his non-shooting hand, it still could make ballhandling and the use of active hands on defense that much more uncomfortable.

•   Immediately when news of the injury dropped, I could not help but remember a play late in Monday night’s 4th quarter. LaVine tried to dribble around his back with Fred VanVleet nearby. The ball slipped out of LaVine’s left hand before VanVleet grabbed it, broke toward the rim, and drew the foul. After the whistle, LaVine immediately looked at his left hand before running to the Bulls bench. He grabbed a towel and was in noticeable discomfort as he pulled on that left thumb. Of course, he re-entered the game for the final two minutes of action, but he didn’t have much ballhandling responsibility after that, which could have just been circumstantial (DeRozan was HOT).

•   To be sure, it’s unclear whether that turnover to VanVleet was where the injury occurred. There isn’t much contact there to suggest such, so this could have just been the first instance of LaVine experiencing pain. In fact, if Collier is right in also saying that LaVine’s thumb was bothering him before the Toronto tip-off, then I can’t help but wonder if LaVine’s turnover in the first half was also caused by this injury.

•   I know, he is playing through it, so why dissect it this much? Well, the mistakes shown above could be far more frequent as he deals with this messed-up finger. We also don’t know what other issues could arise from the pain that comes and goes. I’m not necessarily trying to say LaVine should take a seat on the bench until things are 100 percent, but I also would hate for the team to let him play only to have things get worse. I guess we’ll just have to see how he looks on Thursday against a physical Knicks team.

•   The longer LaVine isn’t at 100 percent, the longer it will be before the Bulls reach their full potential. I 100 percent agree with what Charles Barkley had to say on Inside the NBA last night. Chicago is only going to go as far as LaVine takes them. The roster is much improved, but for them to take that true leap into a clear-cut top-5 Eastern Conference squad, LaVine is going to have to continue his ascension up the league ranks (which is capable of, in my opinion).

•   Speaking of TNT, those folks must be mad they only have one Bulls game this season! The team has been one of the most highlight-inducing and athletic groups to watch this season, which is why it came as no surprise that their matchup with the Knicks was flexed to NBATV. The Bulls now have *13* nationally broadcasted games heading their way. Keep ’em coming!

•   I recommend you don’t turn on the pre-game show before Thursday’s game, though. The head coach who shall not be named has signed on as a studio analyst for NBA TV, and he will be featured on gameday this week. I’m not sure if the hiring department watched his press conferences before making this decision … but there is still time.

•   I HOPE SO!

•   Take it from me, the leadership committee isn’t a great idea.

•   If LaVine is struggling to find his rhythm over the next few games, I’m at least happy to know the team finally has another go-to scorer.

•   Thaddeus Young has only gotten in two of the Spurs four games this season, playing no more than then minutes in each. Give him back to us, guys! We’ll treat him right!

•   So the sports gods came for you too, huh? 

•   Huge and much-needed changes came to the Blackhawks on Tuesday. Make sure you’re caught up:



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is a writer for Bleacher Nation and a human being. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.