There are injury-riddled teams and then there’s the Chicago Bulls. Though the team’s future certainly looks bright thanks to key pieces in Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen – both acquired in the 2017 Jimmy Butler trade – the team is going through one of the worst stretches of injury luck in recent memory.
And with just five games remaining there’s a real chance that their key injured pieces will be shut down for the rest of the regular season, something fans of NBA betting no doubt are mindful off.
The reeling Bulls have gone 5-9 against the spread in their last 14 games after a wild 5-1 stretch in late February, and it only looks like things will get worse.
Markkanen First to Be Shut Down
The first shut down was perhaps the most significant, with the Bulls ruling Markkanen out for the final seven games of the season after he suffered an episode of a rapid heart rate and extreme fatigue in a loss to the Raptors last.
Markkanen actually spent the night in a local Toronto hospital, and he’ll wear a heart monitor in non-contact practices and workouts the remainder of the season. He finishes a successful second season with averages of 18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.3 3-pointers per game but leaves a huge void in the Bulls’ lineup.
The Bulls shut down their sophomore star just a few days after shutting down both of their rookies. Wendell Carter, the seventh-overall pick last June, had been out since January after surgery on a broken thumb. Chandler Hutchison, the 22nd pick in that same draft, suffered a broken toe the same night he recorded his first career double-double in February and never made it back to the court.
The Hutchison injury depleted the depth chart on the wing, which was already shallow in the aftermath of Denzel Valentine’s season-ending ankle surgery back in November.
Bad Bulls Injury News Continues
But the injury news was just getting started. LaVine, the team’s leading scorer playing at an All-Star rate, suffered a bruised thigh in the Bulls’ March 18 victory over the Phoenix Suns and hasn’t played since. Levine’s injury impacted Bulls’ odds, too..
Otto Porter, who completely transformed the Bulls offense after he was acquired in early February, has missed the last six games with nagging shoulder soreness. And point guard Kris Dunn has missed the past three games with a sore back. All three could very well be done for the rest of the season, given there are five games and 10 days left.
Goes without saying but at this point, though Bulls aren't saying so officially other than Markkanen, the surprise would be if LaVine, Dunn or Porter plays in any of 5 remaining games.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 31, 2019
As expected, the Bulls have been a train wreck without their top five scorers. They’ve lost their last four games by a combined 83 points, including two 20-point losses and a 31-point defeat.
The Bulls’ injury woes got so bad that in last Wednesday’s loss to the Blazers the Bulls had nine active players – one above the league minimum – that included their pair of two-way players. The result? A 20-point loss in which they trailed the final 45 minutes.
Crashing Back to Reality
The Bulls have come crashing back down to reality and with the slough of injuries more losses are on the way, and it’s tough seeing them being competitive given that they’re playing with a roster made up primarily of G-League talent.
It’s gotten so rough for the Bulls that they’ve begun signing other G-Leaguers for the remainder of the season. It began with point guard Walter Lemon Jr., who actually surprised with 19 points and six assists in his team debut, though it came in 23-point loss to the Raptors.
On Sunday the Bulls added another G-Leaguer in JaKarr Sampson, giving them a whopping seven players on their active roster who have been with the Windy City Bulls in the last two seasons: Lemon, JaKarr Sampson, Brandon Sampson, Rawle Alkins, Antonio Blakeney, Cris Felicio and Ryan Arcidiacono.
Their saving grace is getting the Knicks twice over the final five games of the season, but even that might be too difficult an opponent given their terrible injury luck.