The Bulls’ highly anticipated point-guard showdown takes a Day 1 detour
Center Wendell Carter Jr. injured his left ankle during practice Tuesday. That meant that Kris Dunn and Tomas Satoransky ran together with the first team for the scrimmage rather than going head-to-head.
The Bulls’ highly anticipated point-guard battle took a turn on the first day of training camp Tuesday — specifically, a left turn.
Second-year center Wendell Carter Jr. injured his left ankle during the three-hour practice. That meant for the scrimmage, Kris Dunn and Tomas Satoransky ran together with the first team rather than going head-to-head, which might have allowed one of them to begin making a statement about who will have a starting spot once the regular-season begins Oct. 23.
With Carter suddenly sidelined (the injury is considered minor and day-to-day), coach Jim Boylen instead started Lauri Markkanen at center, Otto Porter at the four and Satoransky at the three, with a backcourt of Zach LaVine and Dunn.
That’s actually a combination the Bulls could close out games with, especially if they want to go small.
“What we do, with my staff, we’ve talked about different lineups, we’ve talked about the versatility of this roster, how we’re going to play,” Boylen said. “You’ve heard me mention we want to be redundant, where if someone gets hurt, we can still play the same way. We had that opportunity [Tuesday] in midstream. We flip a guy from black to red, or white to the red team, and we keep playing our same way. I do have probable lineups on my board, and we’ve talked about it, and today it just kind of happened in real time, which was good. We got to see that. Now we’ll watch that film and we’ll coach to that.”
That’s true at least for the time being. But while multiple ballhandlers make the Bulls somewhat position-less, the math is the math. A healthy Carter will start at center, while Markkanen, Porter and LaVine will also start. So even with Boylen downplaying the importance of point guard, there’s only one more starting spot up for grabs. The showdown between Dunn and Satoransky can only be delayed for so long.
“I love competition, so this is great for me,” Satoransky said of his first day of practice. “A lot of guys are pretty talented on this team, especially at the point guard position. And for me, it’s just great that I can get better with these guys and also help them out a little bit. So this is fun for me.”
We’ll see how long it’s fun for Dunn. At the moment, the 2016 first-round pick by the Timberwolves has been saying all the right things and putting bad feelings behind him from earlier in the offseason. That hasn’t gone unnoticed or unappreciated.
“Kris Dunn is for the team,” Boylen said. “When I met with him this summer, like I met with every guy, whether it was in town or out of town or whatever, he gave me the ‘Wendell Carter.’ The ‘Wendell Carter’ is, ‘Coach, whatever you need me to do, I’m doing for you.’ That’s what he said.
“Whether that’s maturity, whether he got away and is in a good place, whatever. We all go through that. We all go through those moments where we’re frustrated, or ‘Things aren’t going my way, I’m not happy about it.’ Then we have introspection and we look at it. I’ve always said he’s a good kid, he has a good heart, and he cares about the team.’’
“Who doesn’t want to start?” he said. “But it’s Coach’s choice. And I’m going to do whatever I can to help this team win. Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m here for it.”