After limping to a 5-14 record, things finally seemed as though they were going well for the Chicago Bulls. Winners in six of their last nine games, the Bulls have been building positive momentum on the back of Coby White's breakout to potential stardom. The good vibes have taken a substantial hit now, as they've just lost an integral piece of their rotation.
Unfortunately, the Bulls have finally hit a bump in the road that's sure to cause some damage. Suffering from a sprained right foot, Chicago will be forced to continue on without their key free agent acquisition Torrey Craig. After coming out hot and scoring 16 points in 13 minutes against Miami, Craig was unable to return for the second half due to his injury. He is now expected to spend the next four weeks in a walking boot followed by another four to six weeks rehabilitating the injury.
Torrey has been a big piece of the Bulls' rotation of this season, registering 21.2 minutes per contest and even starting in 7 of his 27 games played. Providing stout defense and averaging 6.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, Craig is exactly the type of role player that championship teams look for to round out their roster.
Craig holds the fourth-best three-point shooting percentage on the roster at 38.2%, trailing only Alex Caruso, Coby White, and Patrick Williams. For a Bulls team that has struggled shooting the ball over the last few years, this will be a big blow to their game plan. The Chicago Bulls media team alerted everyone to the bad news earlier last night.
The Bulls will have to make due without sharpshooter Torrey Craig as he recovers from a severe right foot sprain.
Craig now joins Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball on the injury report, three significantly detrimental losses to Chicago's core 9-man rotation. The Bulls now have $67 million in salary currently sidelined with injury, or approximately 38% of the entire payroll. It remains to be seen if these losses will be too much for the Bulls to overcome in the long run.
Losing Craig hurts particularly bad as he was often tasked with defending the best forward on opposing teams. Torrey held his own against the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant as well as anyone really can, but will now have to be replaced as a defensive cornerstone.
Patrick Williams is the obvious candidate to step up and fill in the void left by Craig, and judging what we've seen from him defensively, he's more than capable of doing just that. Still, Williams is currently only playing 27 minutes per game, and the Bulls will likely struggle during those other 21 minutes he rests on the bench.
Of course, this injury could end up being a launching pad for Williams to assume a larger role and prove he can be a centerpiece for a new-look Bulls team, but he's got a lot of work left to do before I begin to seriously entertain that notion. Not everyone can make a Coby White-sized improvement overnight, can they?