The Chicago Bulls have been the most surprising story of the 2021-2022 NBA Regular Season as the team is currently sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference. What has made the Bulls’ season even more impressive is the team has rarely been at full strength due to various injuries and players entering the health and safety protocols.
The likes of Patrick Williams Nikola Vucevic, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso have all missed time this season. Despite the team already reaching the top of the Eastern Conference, there was a sense of excitement over what the Bulls would be able to do during the second half of the season when the team is at full strength.
The sense of excitement may be short-lived, however, as reports on Thursday have suggested that the Bulls will be without one of their key players for several weeks. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Thursday morning that Ball will be out several weeks after being diagnosed with a small meniscus tear in his left knee.
Ball was not expected to travel with the Bulls when the team begins their road trip on Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks and will likely be out for several weeks after. Charania also reported on Thursday that while there is a chance that Ball plays through the injury, it is also possible that surgery may be in the point guard’s future.
Missing Lonzo Ball changes the entire outlook for the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls are fortunate that Caruso returned to the lineup on Wednesday in their win against the Cleveland Cavaliers as now, the veteran point guard will likely be a fixture in the team’s starting lineup with Ball sidelined. The spotlight will now also continue to shine on rookie guard Ayo Dosunmo.
Dosunmo was already becoming a fixture in the team’s rotation this season and is on a current hot steak as he has scored a combined 54 points over the Bulls’ last three games. Dosunmo now has an opportunity to shine further with the injury news to Ball.
As for the greater outlook that the Ball injury has on the Bulls’ season, this likely will alter their projections for the remainder of the season. At full strength, the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks were not favorable matchups for the Bulls and that is only further cemented if Ball is forced to miss several weeks. With that in mind, don’t expect the Bulls to be too aggressive at the Trade Deadline on February 10 as the team will likely be forced to hold onto Colby White.
Despite the altered projections, the Chicago Bulls still likely can count on a playoff berth. However, with the Ball injury being yet another hurdle for the team to overcome, there are only so many hits to the armor that a team can take.