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Bulls’ Wendell Carter Jr. disappointed with his rookie season, but believes it’s not a waste

Wendell Carter Jr., Bulls

When the Chicago Bulls drafted former Duke standout Wendell Carter Jr. with the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, they were hoping that they had selected the perfect player to complement Lauri Markannen in the frontcourt.

Those hopes seemed to come to fruition during the NBA Summer League, when Carter averaged 14.6 points, 9.4 blocks and 2.6 blocks and showed his potential as the next “man in the middle” in Chicago.

The 19-year-old got off to a decent start in his rookie campaign, including an excellent month of November where he averaged 12.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.

However, Carter’s season was derailed by a thumb injury in January, which caused him to miss the rest of this season. Despite barely playing half the season, Carter told NBA.com writer Sam Smith that he gained some invaluable lessons from his first year in the league.

“The season was disappointing, but not a waste exactly,” the Bulls first round lottery draft pick said about starting 44 games before requiring surgery on his left thumb. “I learned (watching the rest of the season) the pace isn’t as fast as I thought it was. It looked a lot slower from outside. I feel like watching veteran players they know when and where to be positioned and calm. I was able to watch from the sidelines and be able to take in where I can fit in, how I can get my points and get everything I need to get to help my team.”

The Bulls have plenty of offensive potential with Zach LaVine, Lauri Markannen and the recently-acquired Otto Porter. With Wendell Carter Jr. returning to anchor the defense and a potential top-five pick in the upcoming Draft, Chicago will look to make a playoff push next season.