Injuries have already plagued this team

The dreaded “I” word.  Injuries.   I’ve long said my biggest fear for this team is that virtually every important player on it carries with him above average injury risk.   Even players who wouldn’t seem prone to injury have had problems.   Kyle Korver just missed practice with a cyst on his ankle.  Taj Gibson missed time with Plantar Fasciitis, Ronnie Brewer missed time with a sore hamstring, and of course, Boozer won’t be back until late November or early December.

For a normal team, a team without huge turnover, preseason injures probably wouldn’t mean a whole heck of a lot.  Maybe, outside of the Boozer injury, they won’t mean much for the Bulls either.   However, with so many new faces, the Bulls may struggle to find continuity for when the regular season starts.

Let’s take a look at the injuries going forward:

Carlos Boozer:  Obviously, the Boozer injury hurts the Bulls on the floor significantly.   Besides being their second best player, he’s also the only one on the team who brings the skills he has to the table.   The Bulls made it one of their goals to play inside out, but they haven’t really been able to do that in the same way without Boozer as no one else has his post game. 

This calls for the Bulls to run largely different plays in preseason or have their options and effectiveness be completely different than they would in the regular season.  In other words, his presence or absence is changing everything the team is doing.   Even if everything else was flowing great right now, it’d be a struggle to integrate him back into the offense.

The lack of having a backup like Paul Millsap who could fill the same role as Boozer while he’s out will make his injuries hurt us considerably more than they hurt the Jazz who could continue to run through the same sets with or without Boozer.

Ronnie Brewer: Brewer’s back and (presumably) healthy now, but he missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury.  Ignore the fact that the hamstring injury in and of itself is scary since it’s the same injury he had before, and you still have the problem of Brewer not yet feeling comfortable in our offense or defense.

He’s looked tentative on the court so far, and he hasn’t made many plays offensively while missing tons of shots and throwing away a few passes.   Brewer was the guy most of us penciled in as the starting SG for this team.   Either we’ve made a large mistake in signing him [not going there yet], or the Bulls are going to need a lot more time to integrate him into the system.

Whatever the case, the Bulls are presently looking at a hole in their rotation at SG that they don’t know how to fill yet.  Is it Brewer or Bogans?   The only certainty is it looks like it won’t be Korver who they like as a scoring option off the bench.

Taj Gibson: Thibodeau said Taj could play through his plantar fasciitis if it was a regular season game.   That’s good news, to a point, but this is an injury that requires rest to heal.   It was rested all summer long.   It’s still a factor.   To me, that means it’s likely a factor all season long.  If three months off during the summer wasn’t enough to heal this, then how is it going to heal during the season?

I’m not concerned about Taj missing too much time as he played through it last season, but I am concerned that we’ve got a recurring injury and that he’ll play through pain and that may limit his effectiveness.

Edit – It’s been pointed out to me that it was a heal injury and not a recurrence of plantar fasciitis as was originally reported.  This certainly calms my nerves somewhat on the long term health of Taj.

Kyle Korver: Korver’s only missed a practice so far, but we’ve now learned he’s been limited with the ankle for awhile but playing through it.   He’s “laboring” on the court, and the injury is affecting his shooting and ability to move.   Much like Taj, it’s great that he can play through it, but if guys are only playing at 70-80% instead of 100% with injuries, it’s worrisome.

I’m less concerned about Korver’s injury than the others, because Korver is the type of player who probably requires less adjustment for teammates to play with.  Just throw him the ball when he’s open and he’ll shoot it or throw it to someone else.  

C.J. Watson: Watson missed a couple of games as well, and right now, I don’t know what they have in Watson.   At times he looks like he can score, but he’s definitely playing in a score first mentality as a PG.   Do the Bulls need to go out and find another backup PG?   The Bulls were spoiled with Hinrich last season in that role, and while I think Watson’s fine to play 10-15 minutes a night if Rose went down the Bulls look like they’re completely hosed.

Thus far, the Bulls have been fortunate that Rose, Noah, and Deng have stayed healthy, however looking at their style of play / history, it’s not going to shock anyone to see any of them have injury problems later on either.

While the smaller injuries aren’t likely to make considerable long term impacts on the team’s success, they do impact the team’s chemistry and could cause the Bulls to get off to a slower start even if Boozer was healthy.   Throw an unhealthy Boozer into the mix, and the team now needs to run a scheme for which it doesn’t have the personnel or change up their scheme considerably again in two months.

At this stage of the game, there’s little the Bulls can do.  I’d like them to sign Erick Dampier as added insurance in case they continue to struggle with injuries, but realistically that won’t solve the fact that we have no low post scorer, don’t know who our starting SG is, and don’t know what we have in terms of a backup PG.  

The Bulls enter this season improved, but with many question marks.  Questions that can’t be answered until this roster is healthy which won’t happen until December at the earliest and my fear is that it’s always going to be someone with this team.  There’s just too much injury risk on it.

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  • One encouraging thing I've seen from Brewer is that he instinctively makes the back cut. Unfortunately, after two years of VDN, nobody on the bulls instinctively throws the pass to the back cutter. And missing the beginning of training camp like he did probably set him back a month. But eventually it should make doubling Rose out high a big mistake. I think the Bogans/Deng pairing will match nicely with bringing Korver/Brewer off of the bench. I don't think they will be able to play as much pressure defense that way, but I think they will be better in the half court on both ends, at least to start.

  • 1. I wonder about Taj's issues. Is he being given aggressive treatment like Noah got or is it a different kind of problem? I haven't heard much about Taj's treatment compared to Noah's...maybe because he is a lesser player to talk about.
    2. I look at the positive side of Boozer's injury. Hopefully, these guys are learning how to generate offense when one of the primary scorers is shutdown which will probably happen in the playoffs/good opponents. The worry is if Boozer will struggle with his shot for the whole season.
    3. I am concerned with Brewer because he looks injury prone and his game is built more on contact rather than spot-up shooting. That said, honestly I don't feel he is no more than 15-20 mins/game player anyhow.

  • I feel your point on what the preseason is and what its goals should be cannot be overstated. Thank you.

    The Bulls are making, as you say, adjustments to adjustments. And while I agree this has some detrimental effects, it will also have some benefitial ones. I'd feel differently if this wasn't a young team with an excellent teacher. But it is. Noah will benefit later from being forced into positions(playing more PF) where he is looked to score for us. Noah's progress, at least the progress that will be most benefitial to the team, isn't learning how to pass to Boozer. His strong suit is passing and I don't see the two having trouble building comradery quickly. Rose on the other hand will require more time with Boozer to understand where he likes the ball inside.

    I'm not saying Boozer being out is good thing by any means, but its not all bad either. Putting our players in situations where they may not be comfortable is actually a good thing, but only in the prseason where the growing pains dont have a detrimental affect on our endgame, the post season. But time is running out..

    Also I wouldn't worry much about having to retool our gameplan when Boozer is back, its not an ideal situation but we're better with him than we are without, regardless of how accustomed to him the team will be.

    We shall see.

  • Really crossing my fingers on Brewer, my expectations for him weren't through the ceiling, but I counted him as an intangible contributor to making us one of the best defenses in the league.

  • According to KC Johnson, Taj's most recent injury was a plantar fasciitis, rather it was due to a sore right heel.

  • In reply to Dionysus:

    I think you meant wasn't Plant Fasc.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    I should have linked to the story...I meant to say NOT plantar fasicitis.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/bulls/ct-spt-1019-bulls-chicago--20101018,0,394185.story

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    OFF-TOPIC:

    Mr. Marketable is at it again.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9EiHz3XzpM

  • As to your point on Boozer, that is why I would have tried to sign Craig Smith over the summer. He is a young big guy who can score down low, providing the Bulls with an option if/when Boozer gets hurt, plus they could have been able to move Gibson should the right deal come along.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    ChiRy,

    That could be a James Johnson trade on December 15th.

    You never know.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    While I like Craig Smith as a brute force of nature, there is nothing about his game that suggests he could be a replacement for Boozer.

    Love to have him on the Bulls instead of Thomas.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Ok, first of all, unless you have an all-star on your bench, you in no way can replace Boozer anyways.

    Second of all, Craig Smith can score down low. His overall game is no where ner Boozer, thats why he is a backup. But for your bench, you typically want someone that can offer one aspect of a starters game, especially when no one else on the roster can do that.

  • I hope Brewer clicks. But the point is he played well one year but has been injury prone. He was good with Utah because there were a lot more shooters(including the Center->Okur) and that complemented his game. With the Bulls unless he plays with Korver, it is going to be tough. I am just not confident about him as the main SG whether he is a starter or not. He seems to be a little below that 30 min/player in terms of skillset for this team. Maybe on a different team, he can play 30 mins.

  • We'll definitely need at least 2 sizable chunks of the season where our guys are healthy to solidify what lineups/full strength gameplans give us the best chance. And then a third, needing to come at the end as we move into postseason play. Is that too much to ask? I hope not.

  • Doesn't Boozer's absence force other players to garner experience in aspects of the game that need improvement? It would all be for the best if Boozer was in and the experience obtained was as a complete team I know. But in his absence its not too much of a reach to say players can grow in areas that will ultimately benefit the team is it?

    This has to be your focus from a coaches standpoint, finding some positives since you can't control the net positive loss brought upon by injuries.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    *net negative loss brought upon by injuries.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    I agree. Boozer being our go-to guy inside... we have to depend on others to generate offense. It was really hard to watch last year with Hinrich dribbling around and wasting possessions when Rose was out or resting. Hopefully, Thibs doesn't dream about what might happen with Boozer's offense and try to build new offensive sets based on the strengths of the existing guys. Usually, if teams struggle early, they kind of wait for the savior on the bench(kind of like a back-up quarterback in football) to kick-start them.

  • TRUTH BE TOLD:

    Injuries are part of the game. That's why you have BACK-UPS.

  • KEITH BOGANS:

    Sore back....add him to the list.

    http://twitter.com/KCJHoop/status/27859977611

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    He has been carrying the 3-pt shooting on his back during the pre-season....couldn't handle i;-)....Deng is next......

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I like that no one is completely panicking yet, all good points. I am not too worried about Brewer but if our platoon can't do the job at SG I fully expect a trade for Jason Richardson from Phoenix. Once Phoenix realizes they can't do anything this year I feel it would be better to trade for Richardson and not give up Noah than trade for Melo and give up Deng and Noah.

  • In reply to Hendu0520:

    I would LOVE to have Jason Richardson. But that's because I'm a Michigan State alum. All bias aside he'd be a definite upgrade at the position, dude can score and isn't a defensive liability.

  • TThe Bulls can probably stop thinking about Fernandez if they are still thinking of trading for him. That guy is only playing nice cause he has to. Portland has him under contract and he doesn't want to be there or in the NBA period. So the Bulls shouldn't waste a trade on him.

  • Bulls need to do something then, cause all of the shooting guards that they have are primarily all backups. I wouldn't call Brewer a starter either at least not right now. He needs to earn a starting spot and prove that he is durable enough to start.

  • A lot of people continue giving props to Thibs as an excellent teacher, defensive guru etc. etc. But he still has to prove himself as a head coach. Just like Derrick has to prove he can be a superstar 25ppg efficiently or we are screwed.

    I'm not convinced(yet) by any means that Thibs is an offensively gifted mind or that their is one on the Bulls staff. Sure they moved the ball nicely and ran some nice plays, but they also have the advantage of newness, and we will see over the first few weeks and months if Thibs and his staff really have a successful offensive formula. But even if Thibs and the Bulls offensive grasp is just decent/solid with star players and capable role guys that can still get you a long ways.

    The comment by Doug that Taj and Joakim will not develop into guys with developed post up games simply by playing in Boozer's absence is an obvious one. But on the other hand does he believe that Taj and Noah's righty hook have not shown some post abilities. Because if that's the case I'd have to disagree.

    The thing that has bothered me the most about this pre-season is Joakim not setting up down in the post for his much ballyhooed righty hook by Thibs. It's kind of strange if not disengenuous and misleading to so trumpet this ability of Joakim, and then completely ignore/neglect it in the pre-season. Likewise Taj setting up on the blocks as well.

    I keep looking back to the Dallas game when they figured out that high post bigs as distributors game we have been running a lot(similar to what Vinny did). There is a time for adjustments, and they did not adjust to Dallas' simply stopping that set. Part of a team's role in pre-season is not just trying new things and running new sets into the ground. It's running basic staples for team identity and confidence.

    To me the fact that there have been no Derrick takeover sets/moments initiated whatsoever such as L.A. and Miami do for Wade is a mistake. Likewise not going to Noah and Taj setting up down on the blocks. I did hear a few other posters make this point as well, but I'm surprised the attention to this has been so limited.

    It would be different if Derrick were a completely established stud, but he's not(IMO). Even LeBron, Wade, Kobe especially as younger players would have a stretch where they dominated the game to mark their brand and the team's identity even in the pre-season. This scoffing "oh it's the pre-season so of course it's all experimentation and establishing new systems, not stars putting their brand out there or simply posting a guy as renewing the reality that his game is a part of the team's game scoring wise" that to me is just a pseudo, "hey I really understand what NBA pre-season is about, and you do not."

    How ridiculous. Thibs better start giving Derrick the empetus and opportunity to establish his role as the stud scorer and Taj and Noah there needed roles as post contributors which they both have shown skills to do, and the team needs. Otherwise, Thibs and the Bulls are making a big mistake IMO.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I am agreeing with you, the Bulls have too many question marks facing them and I know it's preseason but the Bulls have not played well against the better teams in the league this preseason and if we are all putting our hopes on Boozer being that much of a difference when he returns... then it will not be a good season for the Bulls. Thib's comes from a system in Boston where they had some pretty dam good perimeter scorers and some good front court players. As of now the Bulls have good front court players but only have backup players trying to be starters in the shooting guard role. D-Rose will definitely have to take up a great deal of the scoring until someone else is consistent enough in scoring or the Bulls make a trade for a shooting guard who can hold his own in scoring or make a trade for one of the top players in this league, and we all know who I am referring to without giving up too much.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I've always been a little superstitious, and I tend to get a little pessimistic when I notice negative trends. And during Paxson's tenure it seems like every time the Bulls have raised fan and media expectations, something always happens to knock them back on their heels. A few years ago, after they won 47 games with such a young team, everyone had high hopes that they'd grow into a legit force in the eastern conference the next season. But that summer they traded Curry and Davis and the lack of inside scoring and toughness set them back. And we all know how they collapsed following their 49 win season. Now that Pax and Gar have finally filled the glaring holes the Bull have had for years, the injury bug hits at the 2nd to worst possible time (THE worst time would be right before the playoffs). Are the Bulls snakebit or what?

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I do not want Rudy Fernandez Brewer and Korver are better than him. And he is a baby, I would only trade CJ Watson for Fernandez and nothing else, he is a loser.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Agree...Thibs has not proven much in the pre-season actually. Even the Toronto win was kind of fluky because they were missing their best player(Kleiza) and before anyone says we were missing Boozer...we are supposed to contend and play without Boozer well.
    A couple of things I was disappointed was Thibs not telling the Bulls players to stop passing through the other team and not correcting their mistakes. You are right about the current players(other than Boozer) having some kind of offensive sets like Noah with his hook shots. As I wrote earlier, even when Boozer gets back, he will be shutdown sometime in the playoffs or against the bigger guys like Gasol, Garnett. It would be nice to use Noah or Taj to generate some offense during the hard times.
    If Thibs is just running this passing offense from Noah, it is a recipe for problems this year. Will all due respect to Noah, he is an average passer with the NBA game speed.

    Definitely agree on the confidence sets for the current team. I havent' seen anything like that.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I'm sorry, but Noah is an average passer? He's widely regarded as the best passing center in the league, by people who know 10 times more about basketball than any of us.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    I disagree. It is not that he cannot pass but he tries tough passes and results in a lot of turnovers. I saw it last year too. Maybe with the slashing game of Brewer, Deng it will improve. Well, if these basketball experts think so...that's fine. I am just going by what I see. It is more of an opinion from them rather than a fact.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:
  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    This is frustrating.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Derrick Rose is a point guard. He had the highest ppg for point guards in the league last year, in his second season. He isn't a shooting guard like the three stars you listed(even though Lebron really plays it all). And saying that the pre-season is mainly trying new things and establishing new systems, is a fact that you have to actively shut your mind off to become oblivious to. Why? Because we have a new head coach, 7 new players, and a completely new system. So explain to me how its ignorant to say this preseason is centered around practicing a new system, experimenting with new players, and moving them around to see how they react in situations when we have both a new system, and new players. You want it to be about "stars putting their BRAND out there"? Thats not what this team is about, nor is it what derrick rose is about. He's about getting better, and I agree with you that we need him to get to 25 ppg to reach our maximum level, but the only way that helps us is if he does it within a team system. Which, luckily for us, he's intended on doing.

  • Yah matching the 14 million might be a problem, I first thought of that trade before the Bulls let Hinrich go.

    But with the Charlotte 1st round pick, Brewer, Taj amd some creativity (like a three team trade) we might get him. Richardson's contract is done after this year as well. So if Phoenix really looks bad they might be desperate.

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