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Gasol Dealing with Multiple Injuries
Wednesday, Jan. 13
Few teams in the entire NBA have been as snakebitten by injuries as the Bulls the past few years, and Gasol’s setback is just the latest one on the list.
This injury is particularly concerning for Chicago fans because Gasol carried the Bulls for extended stretches during the 2014-15 season while Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson missed time with setbacks of their own. Gasol averaged 18.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game and was a double-double threat every time he stepped on the floor.
The Bulls have championship aspirations for 2015-16, but it is difficult to see that happening if Gasol is out for an extended amount of time. He opens up the offense with his perimeter shooting and passing abilities and is a rebounding force on both sides of the floor. His pick-and-pop ability is particularly lethal with Rose, and Chicago often turns to it when it needs a critical basket.
Others must step up if Gasol misses time, most notably Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, Noah or even rookie Bobby Portis.
Gibson and Noah are veteran leaders on this club with extensive playoff experience and are accustomed to playing heavy minutes. Mirotic can spread the floor with his three-point shooting as a matchup nightmare from the power forward spot, and Portis is a high-energy rookie who earned SEC Player of the Year status in his final season at Arkansas.
The Bulls do boast impressive depth in the frontcourt, and the Gibson and Noah combination should handle the rebounding. However, Gasol is the one marquee player on the Chicago roster with an NBA championship on his resume, and his veteran leadership is critical in important moments.
The Bulls will be hard-pressed to fulfill their title dreams in crunch time without Gasol in the lineup.