Noah Out for 8-10 Weeks. What, Me Worry?
Just when everything was starting to come together for the Bulls this had to happen. They win 7 in a row for the first time since 2006 and the news we get after man-handling the Raptors Wednesday night is that Joakim Noah will be out 8-10 weeks with a torn ligament in his hand. This can’t be good right? Well although I usually play the role of perennial pessimist, I’m choosing to look at the upside here. I think this might, in the long run, be good for the Bulls. Or at least, not a biggie. Allow me to explain.
First of all, the Bulls already showed what they can do without one of their star players, playing the first 5 weeks of the regular season without their all-star acquisition, Carlos Boozer. All they did was go 9-6, including a 4-3 mark on the dreaded West Coast circus trip. What this tells me is this is a deep, talented, and well-coached team. So we’ve got that going for us, then.
Another reason this is little cause for concern is the weak division in which the Bulls dwell. Currently they are 16-8 and 5 games up on the second place team the Pacers, who are 11-13. The Bucks, who were picked by many to win the division, have struggled this year under former Bulls coach Scott Skiles and are a mere 10-14 in 3rd place. Detroit is an organization in shambles, and Cleveland, well, they’re arguably the worst team in the NBA right now. The idea for this Bulls team is to make the playoffs, and although it’s early, it looks like it’s going to take a whole lot more than a torn hand ligament to prevent them from winning this division and doing just that.
Another positive about this injury is it gives this Bulls team another opportunity to prove itself as a true contender. Good teams overcome adversity, and great teams end up being greater as a result of it. This is a team still building camaraderie (8, count ’em, 8 new players on the roster), and situations like these can provide for a rallying point around which teammates can gel. Certain players will have to step up and play bigger roles (Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver, etc), and if they succeed and prove to be reliable, the team as a whole benefits. I think Coach Thibodeau knows this, and knows how to get the most out of his players.
And that brings us to my guy, Omer Asik. The 7 footer from Turkey has averaged 11.4 minutes per game thus far, playing in all 24 regular season games, while averaging an unimpressive 2.5 points and 2.8 rebounds. He will be asked to play a great deal more, perhaps even start, for a team leading its division. I see this as a valuable learning experience for the Big Turk, one that could serve the Bulls well in the playoffs. It is understood that he could have a big upside, and the only way to find out how big is for him to play. As he begins to get more comfortable with the style and pace of NBA play, he will gain confidence and could be a huge asset off the bench in the playoffs.
Dont get me wrong, this will be another major test for a newly constructed Bulls team that has a lot to prove. And with February 2nd as a tentative return date for Noah, they have a lot of games to prove it. I guess the nice thing is that for once, this Bulls fan isn’t worried.
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