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Bulls’ Wendell Carter Jr. wants position change from center

Wendell Carter Jr., Bulls

Chicago Bulls big man Wendell Carter Jr. wants to play power forward again after starting at center for his first two NBA seasons.

Carter Jr.’s numbers are up (11.6 PPG, 54.1% eFG), but injuries have limited his sophomore campaign to just 38 games after playing just 42 as a rookie. Saturday’s loss to the New York Knicks marked his return after missing the previous 22 games with a bad ankle sprain, and Carter Jr. noticeably struggled—putting up six points (1-5 FG) in 18 minutes as backup Knicks center Mitchell Robinson went for a career-high 23.

At 6’9, 280 pounds, with a 7’5 wingspan, Carter Jr. predominately played power forward growing up until the Bulls took him with the No. 7 overall pick in 2018, envisioning him alongside Lauri Markkanen. A rash of injuries have prevented the two from developing chemistry.

Carter Jr. explained his preference for the 4, and offered his experience with Marvin Bagley Jr. as a template for him and Markkanen.

“Coach understands that I’m a great defender no matter who I’m guarding, but he also understands that one of the reasons we’re in the black is because of my size, because I’m not as tall. I mean I’m more mobile than most fives, so I’m able to be up, slide, all that. I mean I’ve been playing the four all of my life. Even when I was at Duke, me and Marvin were kind of interchangeable at the four, so I don’t know. It’s definitely a conversation I’m going to bring up for sure, but as of right now I’m just trying to make it work with where I’m at.’’

Bulls coach Jim Boylen didn’t totally shut the door on Carter playing four in the future.

“Are you saying could he play some four someday? Probably. I think he could, but he’s missed 50-some games in two years, so before we get there we just gotta get him healthy and get him into a rhythm.’’