Joakim Noah To Miss 8-10 Weeks: Chicago Bulls Bench Bigs Must Step Up

Chris Murphy@@SeeMurphsTweetsAnalyst IDecember 16, 2010

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah will likely miss eight to 10 weeks after having surgery Thursday to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb.

Although Noah finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds against the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night, it was clear to see he was not 100 percent.

He grimaced when carefully dunking, he seemed timid to go after rebounds and even his high-fives were either fist bumps or used with the other hand.

Clearly, Noah cannot make it through the season without fixing this problem.

Noah originally hurt the thumb in a 96-85 win over the Sacramento Kings on Nov. 27, tweaking it again on Dec. 4 against the Houston Rockets.

Noah is averaging 14.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game for the Bulls and seemed likely for an All-Star trip come February.

Now, just as the Bulls, winners of seven straight, were starting to gel with returning power forward Carlos Boozer, the team will need to look toward Taj Gibson, Omer Asik and Kurt Thomas to fill the void of another injured starter.

The Bulls will most likely go small and have Taj Gibson, who stepped in while Boozer was injured to start the season until Dec. 2, start at the center position. He has played some center off the bench for the Bulls.

Asik will be the biggest wildcard, as the Bulls have simply asked him to come off the bench and block shots and rebound.

Now, as he will not have the offensive cushion of Gibson next to him, the Bulls will need more production out of Asik.

If Asik does not produce, the Bulls will be forced to turn to veteran Thomas to provide some kind of low post scoring.

Regardless, the Bulls will be asking for much more out of the team's bench bigs.

Good news for the Bulls is from Dec. 16 to Feb. 15 the Bulls play 29 games, only seven of which are against teams that currently are above .500 and against teams with a combined record of 233-259.

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