Chicago Bulls: Will we see a ‘different Wendell’ in 2020-21?

Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

Third-year Chicago Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. delivered some optimistic remarks on the potential of his game heading into the 2020-21 season.

The growing young core for the Chicago Bulls is going to be a key topic of discussion yet again heading into the fourth year of the rebuild. And there is another shot for the Bulls organization to continue to build on the current young core at hand, since they landed the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery.

With the fourth overall, there’s a lot of options that open up for Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley to best position this Bulls roster heading into the first year with former Oklahoma City Thunder bench boss Billy Donovan as this team’s next head coach. Karnisovas and Eversley already did an seemingly good job retooling this organization from the top-down, since they were both hired back in spring.

The emphasis on the Bulls young core will be one of the true focal points heading into the 2020-21 season for Karnisovas and Eversley. And one of the key parts of the young core, to-be third-year former Duke Blue Devils center Wendell Carter Jr., recently opened up on his thoughts for the season ahead with Ben Stinar of Forbes Sports.

The main quote that was pulled from the discussion between Stinar of Forbes and WCJ was the following: “y’all definitely are going to see a different Wendell”, heading into next season. He also mentioned “y’all are going to see a more aggressive Wendell”, after he stated his excitement for what lies ahead for the 2020-21 campaign.

But what actually has to change for WCJ to improve where he needs the most heading into his third year in the NBA?

Where Carter Jr. took the biggest steps back last season were with his free-throw shooting, blocks, and ability and effectively distribute the ball. Carter Jr. averaged 0.6 less assists per game, and 0.5 less blocks last season than he did during his rookie campaign. He also went from a free-throw shooter that, percentage-wise, was four percent above the league average as a rookie to five percent below the NBA bar during the 2019-20 season.

The source of the problems for Carter Jr. in the blocking, fouling, and distributing/facilitating departments are clear. Former Bulls head coach Jim Boylen played a defensive scheme that put a lot of pressure on the opposing offense both on the perimeter and in transition, thus leaving WCJ to clean up too many messes covering too many players down low.

Donovan and second-year Bulls assistant coach Chris Fleming need to continue to let WCJ blossom as a facilitator from inside the two-point arc and as a stretch big man. WCJ started to improve his shooting from beyond 10-feet from the rim down the stretch last season, at least when he was healthy. That part of his game could very realistically continue to improve next year.

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WCJ played in 43 games during the shortened 2019-20 regular season with the Bulls (all of which he started in). And he averaged 11.3 points per game, 9.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks. He shot 53.4 percent from the field, 20.7 percent from beyond the arc, and 73.7 percent from the free-throw line.