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Markkanen’s Imminent Return Brings Hope to Spiraling Bulls

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The Bulls entered the 2018-19 season with excitement. The trio of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Kris Dunn was finally going to get to play together. Jabari Parker’s homecoming and Wendell Carter Jr.’s rookie season were all major storylines going into the season.

Parker’s homecoming hasn’t yet been the best, however, and Carter Jr. has been haunted by fouls. LaVine is the only player from Jimmy Butler trade to play more than one game for Chicago so far.

Injuries Have Been Detrimental

Lauri’s elbow injury in training camp immediately sent shockwaves through the organization; and once the injuries to Dunn, Denzel Valentine, and Bobby Portis occurred, the Bulls were seemingly dead in the water. The Bulls have suffered some bad losses: 135-106 vs. Charlotte, 111-82 vs. Boston, and a 123-104 loss vs. Milwaukee– in which the Bulls were leading by more than 20 in the 2nd quarter. The historic 149-124 loss to Golden State caps off a series of bad blowouts.

LaVine Overworked on Offense

Zach LaVine, who sits 10th in scoring, has done all he can to make the team competitive, but even he knows that the team is in a tough spot. “If I’m not getting 25 or 30, it’s not looking very good,” he said following the loss to the Celtics. LaVine looks to be tiring out from the load he’s had to carry. He’s currently 2nd in the NBA in usage rate, behind only James Harden. Justin Holiday and Jabari Parker have played better in recent games, and Wendell Carter Jr., when he’s been on the court, has proven his worth as a top 10 pick in the draft.

Through all of this, Lauri Markkanen has been on the sideline constantly, waiting for his opportunity to help his team out. Prior to training camp, many looked at Markkanen as the Bulls next top dog. Averaging 15.2 points per game in his rookie season, making the Rising Stars Challenge, and being on the All-Rookie 1st team, “The Finnisher” surpassed expectation last season, and this season was supposedly going to be even better.

Markkanen Due Back Soon

Soon, we’ll find out if that’s the case, as, on November 27th, Markkanen returned to full-contact practice; Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis are also not far behind him. Of course, he’ll need time to readjust to the speed and tempo of the game.

“I’m just trying to get my wind back because obviously no matter how much I do conditioning-wise, games are different.”, Markkanen said following the practice.

Lauri’s presence on the court should help this team instantly. His scoring ability should aid LaVine’s playmaking, as well as open driving lanes for him. His return also moves either Jabari Parker or Justin Holiday to a bench in need of more scoring and playmaking.

The Bulls have had a very bad season so far, and while Lauri Markkanen may not stop that completely, he’ll certainly provide some hope.

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