How this team continues to win is beyond me. It seems that every corner the Chicago Bulls turns, another player gets injured. Obviously Derrick Rose is still absent from the line-up, although his return is looming over the heads of Chicago fans, and Joakim Noah is still day-to-day with plantar fascitis in his right foot. He is hoping to play today when the Bulls face the Denver Nuggets and while the Bulls shouldn’t stress him to play there is no denying that they need him in the line-up. At the tail end of the injury list lies Kirk Hinrich, who is out with an elbow injury and Marco Belinelli, who sprained his ankle on Monday against the Indiana Pacers.
The Bulls are tied for the lead in the Central Conference with the Pacers and after losing 111-101 to them on Monday, they should be able to identify some pretty clear problems going forward. The first problem is obviously the absence of Noah. While Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer can hold down the fort at power forward and center, there is no question that they are both power forward players. So that must mean that Nazr Mohammed is the guy for the job right? Wrong. I’m not questioning whether or not Mohammed can play or not I’m simply saying that he has the odds stacked against him.
Much like other bench players like Dequan Cook, Marquis Teague and Vladimir Radmanovic, their futures will depend on minutes. None of them can be expected to have an impact if they never see the court. This applies to Mohammed now more than ever. With Noah down, it would seem that Mohammed would be the go to guy; a big body who can deter penetration and contribute on the offensive end. But when he is given garbage minutes and never given the chance to prove himself he will surely never live up to what he needs to be.
No one on the roster right now for the Bulls can mimic what Noah does on a nightly basis, and that’s the problem. Many teams are without a star back-up center and that’s fine, but Chicago has been playing the wait-and-see game all season hoping that their big name players don’t go down with an injury. Now that they have we can really see the depth of Chicago’s rotations.
When Luol Deng was injured, Jimmy Butler stepped up and filled in very nicely. When Richard Hamilton was injured, Belinelli stepped up to answer the call. Now that Noah is out, who will step up?
Chicago needs to commit to a plan of attack as they move forward. Whether it’s solidifying the decision to mix and match Gibson and Boozer and the four and five or putting the time and trust into Mohammed to see if the investment pays off. If neither one of those options suit their fancy, then it’s time for them to make some moves before the trade deadline.