Michael Carter-Williams Returns To The Chicago Bulls’ Lineup To Give Them A Boost

Michael Carter-Williams is set to play his fourth game for the Chicago Bulls. Injuries have kept the guard out of the Bulls’ lineup so far. The Bulls could use Carter-Williams to solidify a few things in their rotation. Can Michael Carter-Williams be the boost to the Bulls’ lineup they so desperately need?

Prior to Michael Carter-Williams injuring his knee (courtesy of CSN Chicago), he was optimistic about carving out a role for himself with the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were 3-0 with him on the floor, and they started 11-7 overall before the slide began.

Injuries were not supposed to be part of the plan. Carter-Williams was supposed to be making his case to be a long-term member of the Chicago Bulls, his third team in less than four seasons. The Bulls point guard acknowledged the road his career was taking before suffering from sprained knee.

“I think the biggest thing for me is I’ve done some pretty good things in this league. I’ve shown what I can do in this league. I’ve had some unlucky bumps in the road, traded after winning rookie of the year, going to Milwaukee, which wasn’t the best situation for me.”

No one truly knows how Carter-Williams fits in with the Chicago Bulls because he has missed 27 games. The Bulls are now 14-16. And they have looked terrible against athletic teams thus far in his absence. Just by having his athleticism and length on the floor has to be a plus.

Michael Carter-Williams
Michael Carter-Williams suffered a sprained knee just as he was integrating himself in the Chicago Bulls’ lineup. After missing 27 games, his return should give the Bulls a spark. [Image by Michael Reaves/Getty Images]

Michael Carter-Williams can also help the Chicago Bulls with his defensive ability. One of the biggest reasons why the Bulls have struggled since their 11-7 start is defense. Opposing guards have penetrated through the Bulls’ units ad nauseam with no end in sight.

While starting point guard Rajon Rondo has been solid getting the Bulls in a position to score, his defense is not what it used to be. An end result to that is opposing teams attacking the basket and testing the Bulls’ post defenders.

Things would be different if the Bulls had an athletic shot-blocker manning the paint, but they do not. Robin Lopez is a good rim protector, but not having a player with the ability to alter shots from the weak side hurts. One of Michael Carter-Williams strengths is shot-blocking at the guard spot.

His return against the Indiana Pacers (courtesy of ESPN) is not enough to get the Chicago Bulls over the hump, although he can steady the ship a little bit. Michael Carter-Williams is not the Chicago Bulls’ savior. The Bulls will be drastically improved with him coming back to the lineup. Carter-Williams will help the Bulls with a few subtleties.

Having a lead guard with the second unit will help the Bulls rest Dwyane Wade for the long haul. Wade has played with the Bulls’ reserves throughout the season in an effort to give them a calming influence on the floor. If there are serious intentions on making the playoffs and advancing at least one round, that will have to cease. Wade’s heavy minutes should come in the latter stretches of the games, not the beginning.

Michael Carter-Williams and Cristano Felicio
Michael Carter-Williams’ athleticism and length will help the Chicago Bulls defensively as a weak side presence from the guard spot. Defense is where the Bulls have struggled thus far. [Image by Michael Reaves/Getty Images]

One hidden problem with the Chicago Bulls’ slide is their heavy reliance on the 34-year-old Dwyane Wade. No championships will be won this season by the Bulls. They want to win games, but player development should be important as well.

Players not appearing in games, especially those who can help as the season winds down, will come back to haunt the Bulls. The return of Michael Carter-Williams helps in that area.

Not only can he be entrusted with leading the second unit, Carter-Williams’ pass-first mentality will aide the struggling Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. A possible second unit could include Carter-Williams, McDermott, Mirotic, Denzel Valentine, and either Bobby Portis or Cristiano Felicio. While it is a young lineup, getting them to work through the ebbs and flows of the game is imperative.

Lastly, Michael Carter-Willams helps the Chicago Bulls in terms of future of the point guard position. Is he a starting lead guard on a playoff team? If so, the Bulls can decide to keep him and allocate their salary cap room elsewhere to address other concerns. Rajon Rondo is not future cog for the Bulls. Carter-Williams can prove that he is.

Michael Carter-Williams’ return to the Chicago Bulls’ lineup will help in a couple of subtle ways, but his impact will be more long-term than in the interim.

[Featured Image by Stacy Revere/Getty Images]