The Chicago Bulls have a serious decision to make regarding Wendell Carter Jr. At some point in the near future, the team will need to decide if he is for the journey.
Carter Jr. is out for at least 4 weeks with a quad contusion. This latest injury came as a result of an injury he suffered in practice when teammate Denzel Valentine reportedly accidentally kneed him in the “perfect spot” on the leg.
Carter Jr. said he knew it was bad immediately. Unfortunately, this has been the trend with the Bulls’ talented but oft-injured 21-year-old big man.
Pippen Ain’t Easy, a Bulls-centric blog, posted this on Twitter from Fox Sports. It’s a long and troubling list of Carter Jr’s injuries since he came into the NBA in 2018.
Carter has never played in more than 44 games in an NBA season. Yes, the 2019-20 season was shortened for the Bulls because of the pandemic and their out-of-contention standing when the NBA restarted, but as you can see from the image above, Carter Jr. missed significant time last year as well.
Do the Bulls believe Carter Jr. will ever get over his injury-prone label and is his upside high enough to risk it?
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When big men struggle to stay healthy as Carter Jr. has as a very young man, it’s usually not a good sign for the rest of their career. There are horror stories like Greg Oden, less-dramatic examples like Sam Bowie (played 10 years in the NBA), and the Dallas Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis is another player to consider.
The Unicorn’s injury issues have seemingly caught up with him and it seems he’s on the sidelines a lot more frequently than he’s on the court the last three years. After playing in 76 games as a rookie, he dipped to 66 the following season, then 48 in 2017-18, and he sat out all of the 2018-19 campaign.
Porzingis was back in 2019-20 to play 57 games, but he has already missed 10 of Dallas’ 18 games this season.
Chicago has to be wary of such a thing happening to them with Carter Jr. There are always exceptions, but more times than not, it seems bigs who get hurt this often early flame out, or the wear and tear of the injuries lowers their ceiling.
Is He Good Enough to Risk it?
When Carter Jr. came out of Duke, there were some obvious similarities between him and multiple-time All-Star Al Horford. Carter Jr. has struggled to find the consistent shooting stroke, and he’s yet to develop the kind of physical strength to match Horford’s interior defense. Those are two important components of Horford’s game and part of the reason he’s had such a successful career.
Carter Jr. is only 21 and there is obviously room for growth, but are the Bulls sure he’ll pan out given the amount of time he’s missed due to injuries? That’s the question for Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley and if the answer is no, Chicago should be looking to unload him as soon as he’s healthy.
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