Should Wendell Carter Jr. Open the Season on the Bench?
Even with plenty of excitement surrounding the Bulls, a big question remains: Should the veteran additions, namely Thaddeus Young, keep Wendell Carter Jr. on the bench?
It doesn’t feel like basketball season yet as the NFL regular season isn’t even halfway done, but the Bulls season opener is here.
There’s a lot to be excited about with the Bulls heading into the season. Zach LaVine is motivated, Lauri Markkanen is healthy, and the veteran additions of Otto Porter, Thomas Satoransky, and Thaddeus Young should bring much-needed stability to the roster.
A big question remains, however. Should the veteran additions, namely Young, keep Wendell Carter Jr. on the bench?
This isn’t meant to be a knock on the promising 20-year old center. It’s about doing what’s best for his development.
Carter Jr. played just 44 games as a rookie. He dealt with both a sprained ankle and bruised tailbone in training camp followed by looking very slow and sluggish in his limited postseason action.
Young and Carter have similar skillsets. Why not let the veteran do his thing with the starting unit, at minimum serving as an offensive glue guy and interior defensive presence? It’ll give Carter time to get his legs back under him without as much pressure to perform, as well as a chance to sit back and learn.
There’s also the benefit of him gaining chemistry with this year’s first-round pick, Coby White, who showed an impressive ability to score the ball in the preseason off the bench. Watching Carter and White run pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll together against opponents benches could be really fun.
The offensive spacing should work the same with Wendell Carter Jr. and Luke Kornet as it would with Carter and Markkanen. Carter Jr. will need to be relied on quite a bit as a passer, as none of the Bulls’ second unit perimeter players outside of White can create much for themselves. This could open up another opportunity for Carter Jr. to grow.
Given the way this roster is structured, I worry about Carter Jr. letting himself be an afterthought with the starting unit while dragging down the unit’s production in the process. He won’t have the option of being a wallflower off the bench, and it would make the inevitable growing pains more tolerable.
This is an important season for the Bulls, and Wendell Carter Jr. is no small part of it. Let’s hope that Jim Boylen handles him right.
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