One of the only things that can dampen the Chicago Bulls’ early run of success is injury. An injury to Zach LaVine would be at the very top of this list of undesirable events.
Unfortunately, LaVine is nursing a thumb injury that doesn’t sound too serious at the moment, but there is a chance it could get worse.
Per multiple reports, LaVine has a torn thumb ligament on his left hand (non-shooting), and it has him listed as questionable for Thursday night’s game against the New York Knicks.
While the injury certainly sounds worrisome, an early look at LaVine during shootaround implies he’s fine for now. Here is a look at LaVine playing a little one-on-one with Patrick Williams, something that has become a bit of a staple for Bulls practices.
What Can We Make of Zach LaVine’s Thumb Injury?
LaVine’s handling of the injury could come down to how much he can tolerate the discomfort while still performing at the level the Bulls need for him to be effective. Understanding the injury might help shine a light on what he’s dealing with currently.
According to OrthoInfo, there are three levels of thumb ligament strains. They are as followed:
Grades of Thumb Sprains Sprains are graded, depending on the degree of injury to the ligaments Grade 1 sprain (mild). The ligaments are stretched, but not torn.
Grade 2 sprain (moderate). The ligaments are partially torn. This type of injury may involve some loss of function.
Grade 3 sprain (severe). The ligament is completely torn or is pulled off its attachment to the bone. These are significant injuries that require medical or surgical care. If the ligament tears away from the bone, it may take a small chip of the bone with it. This is called an avulsion fracture.
Based on the way LaVine’s injury is being approached, it would appear as though the Bulls’ star may have a Grade 2 sprain. If it were a Grade 3, it seems unlikely the team would allow him to try to play through it as to avoid the risk of it becoming more severe.
If LaVine Has to Miss Time, What Happens With the Starting Lineup?
It doesn’t appear as though LaVine will miss any time. However, if the injury worsens or he realizes that rest is his best option, the Bulls would have a decision to make.
The obvious choice to replace him in the starting lineup might be Alex Caruso. He’s clearly the next best guy at the position. However, removing Caruso from the reserve unit might cripple the bench. That’s why Javonte Green is the likely and smartest short-term solution if LaVine has to be replaced. Green’s energy, athleticism, defense and underrated shooting could help the Bulls not only remain competitive without their best player, but would likely keep them on the winning track.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, but if it does, having Green start might not be as bad as it seems.
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