Missed playing time continues to pile up for Bulls’ Chandler Hutchison
Since being selected in the first round in the 2018 NBA Draft, the forward has missed 63 games with injuries. Coach Jim Boylen realizes how valuable that missed playing time is for a player’s development.
Coach Jim Boylen is a huge believer in player development.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, Chandler Hutchison’s development has been stunted.
It’s not necessarily his fault, especially considering how frequently the 22nd overall pick from the 2018 NBA Draft has been injured — a toe here, a hamstring there and now an injured right shoulder.
But the numbers are the numbers, and the amount of missed games is alarming. The Boise State alum has been out 25 games this season. During his rookie season, he missed 38. The Bulls have played 116 games since Hutchison joined the team, and he has missed 63 of them.
“First of all, my heart breaks for him,’’ Boylen said. “He’s a great kid, a great worker. So it’s frustrating for him and his family, and it’s frustrating for us. I’m encouraged, though. He’s going to practice [Tuesday] with the G League team. He’ll have full contact with the G League team at 4 o’clock in our building, so I’ll get a chance to watch him play a little bit and practice with them.
“We’ll keep working at it. I’m not going to get discouraged. He’s a piece to what we’re building, like all of our guys, and we’d love to have him back.’’
If Hutchison can continue to get through full-contact practices and the shoulder holds up, the hope is he could be active by next week.
With Hutchison, however, that’s always a big if.
He has spoken about the setbacks frequently this season and has always maintained that he was staying engaged by watching film and scrutinizing practices. That’s great, but NBA minutes can’t be duplicated from the sideline.
“You need reps,’’ Boylen said. “You need to be out there and live it, breathe it, so between using our G League team and our big team, hopefully we can get him back. Positional size is important in our league; his size is something we can use. We’ll just keep hoping.’’
Working in Hutchison’s favor is the fact that it’s a shoulder injury, so he has been able to run and stay in relatively good condition.
“That’s the one thing he’s been able to do,’’ Boylen said. “He hasn’t been able to take blows on his shoulder in contact until just recently, but he does a lot of running.’’
Rookie Daniel Gafford saw his minutes per game climb to 12.4 in December. Considering he was scratched early in the season on most nights, the second-round pick out of Arkansas will take it.
“I’m right where I want to be right now,’’ Gafford said. “If my minutes are increased, I’ll be grateful for that. But other than that, I’m grateful for what I’m given right now, the chance I have to come out and produce and show Coach what I’m able to do so maybe he can increase my minutes.’’
It will be interesting to see what happens to Gafford when Hutchison returns to the rotation and when Otto Porter Jr. (fractured left foot) someday finds his way back into action.
Neither plays Gafford’s spot, but they are rotation players who could push Gafford back to full-time bench duty.
“I’m just going to do what Coach needs me to do,’’ Gafford said. “Come out and play basketball.’’