Chicago Bulls: Rookie Wendell Carter Jr. feasted against the Nuggets

Paul Millsap (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Paul Millsap (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

All the pieces finally came together for Chicago Bulls rookie Wendell Carter Jr. in his best game of the year so far. The rookie showed why’s he deserving of more touches during the Bulls’ injury bug.

A different Wendell Carter Jr. came to play in the Chicago Bulls’ Wednesday night overtime thriller against the Denver Nuggets.

The Bulls have struggled to find a fit for Carter on offense all season, but the coaching staff clearly found a new game plan in the 108-107 loss. Chicago established Carter early on in the game, and the rookie put up six shots in his first five minutes.

While Carter was more aggressive than he’d been all season, he didn’t force shots at all during the game.

Carter finished the first half with 11 points, four rebounds, two steals and one block. He played staunch defense all game against Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee, while also providing great help on the Nuggets’ speedy guards.

Wendell finished the game with 25 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks, hitting on nine of his 21 attempts on the night.

Chicago looked a lot more fluid on offense in general, but Carter was the focal point for much of that fluidity, particularly with Zach LaVine getting off to a slow start. The Bulls fed Carter on the block, and the rookie wasn’t shy in showing off his impressive arsenal of post moves.

Carter’s scoring came from all over the floor and looked more and more like his Duke self. He scored on a myriad of looks down low, finished off dump passes from his teammates, knocked down two threes, and flushed home a great lob from Cameron Payne.

Carter as a playmaker for the Bulls

The most impressive part of Carter’s game on the night was easily his passing. His five assists notched a career high for him, and his lone turnover came on offense.

Carter showcased why he was largely heralded as the best passing big of his draft class. He executed on skip passes, moved the ball well to the corner, and made great reads in traffic.

In college, Carter looked like the kind of big that NBA teams could run their offenses through out of the post, and he lived up to that scouting report on Wednesday. He zipped passes around effortlessly and almost always made the extra pass, something Chicago’s offense has missed so far this season.

Wednesday night’s game should have fans salivating even more for the return of Lauri Markkanen, who will open up Carter’s passing game more than Jabari Parker and Chandler Hutchison can, although Hutchison and Carter had some good chemistry on cuts early on in the game.

Next. 1 like/dislike from the OT loss. dark

The plan going forward for the Bulls’ coaching staff should be simple: get Wendell the ball. Carter can help relieve some of the stress on the offense and distribute the ball more evenly, particularly with opposing defense keying in on LaVine.

With Markkanen, Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine and Bobby Portis still out for the foreseeable future, that directive should be a simple one for Chicago’s brass.