Wendell Carter Jr. continues to be bright spot for Bulls

Despite being slightly undersized for his position, standing at 6’10, center Wendell Carter Jr. has emerged as the team’s most active rim protector.

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Wendell Carter Jr. continues to be a bright spot for the Bulls this season.

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DETROIT — Despite being slightly undersized for his position, 6-10 center Wendell Carter Jr. has emerged as perhaps the Bulls’ most active rebounder.

In the 119-107 victory against the Pistons on Saturday, he surpassed 600 career rebounds, making him the fifth player in Bulls franchise history to collect 600-plus rebounds in his first 75 games. One season has made a world of difference, Carter said.

“I feel a whole lot better,” Carter said after shootaround Saturday. “I feel a lot smarter, a lot wiser on the court, off the court. And with me being a second-year player, I’m having a little more of a voice. Coaches and players are starting to listen to me, my thoughts and my concerns of what’s going on in the games, so it definitely feels good.”

“He’s one of our toughest, most physical guys, and so that carries weight in our locker room,” coach Jim Boylen said.

This season, Carter has averaged 11.9 points and 9.7 rebounds. And after having only seven double-doubles last season, Carter, the seventh overall pick in 2018, already has 14. He had 12 points and 12 rebounds against the Pistons.

What’s the biggest key to Carter’s improvements this season?

His health, Boylen said.

In his young NBA career, Carter has suffered a variety of injuries.

Last season, he needed thumb surgery, which limited him to 44 games. Then, he had offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia that had bothered him since he was 15. He also sprained his ankle during training camp and then suffered a bruised tailbone.

But over the last few weeks, Carter has become one of the most consistent starters.

“He’s just a young developing guy that seems to keep getting better every day,” Boylen said.

Penny for your thoughts

Otto Porter Jr. is intrigued by the proposed schedule changes the NBA is considering for the 2021-22 season.

Some of the changes include trimming the season down to 78 games and an in-season tournament, which could include a $1 million payout for each player on the -winning team, ESPN reported Friday.

“It’s something different,” Porter said.

“I say why not try it? And if it doesn’t work, then get rid of it.”

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