Markkanen’s Return: Will Lauri Make it Into the Bulls’ Starting Lineup?

Lauri Markkanen

Getty Lauri Markkanen spent the early season sidelined with an elbow injury.

Bulls fans are understandably psyched today after hearing that Lauri Markkanen will finally be making his season debut tonight against the Rockets. The 7’0″ second-year center was downed during the team’s training camp in September with a semi-serious elbow injury and has yet to play this season. Tonight, though, it’s looking like he’ll take the floor against the Rockets.

Though it’s exciting to have him back, it’ll likely take more than a few games for him to get up to speed. The injury affected the elbow of his shooting arm, and besides however that might affect his shot, he’ll definitely need time to shake off the rust.

It’ll be hard to stay patient while he does that, but the Bulls will have to. Their record right now is a dismal 5-18, but expecting Markkanen to be an immediate savior would be a mistake. He averaged 15.2 points per game along with 7.5 rebounds in his rookie season last year, but he certainly won’t get back to those numbers right away. It’s more likely that the Bulls will ease him into his regular minutes, and into his spot in the starting lineup.

It’s Not Likely That Makkanen Will Start Right Away

Wendell Carter, Jr.

GettyWendell Carter, Jr. has been solid at center for the Bulls.

If Wendell Carter, Jr. weren’t holding down the fort so well, it might be more likely that Markkanen would jump right back into his starting role with the Bulls. But Carter is coming off of a monster game against the Pistons in which he scored 28 points, and he’s averaging a solid 11.6 on the season.

Between the strong performances of Carter, Jr. and the fact that Markkanen will likely take some time to get up to speed, the Bulls can’t quite afford to risk putting right back into the thick of things. He could be less productive than they need; worse, he could get hurt again. It’s likely that the Bulls won’t take too many risks with him tonight, even against the Rockets.

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