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The Chicago Bulls are hurting

It seems like every season, the Chicago Bulls have to deal with injuries to key players. We all know about Derrick Rose’s injuries, and Rose is again on the shelf with a knee injury, although he should be back before the rest of the season.

But Rose isn’t the only one hurting right now. Taj Gibson is also out for the time being with an ankle injury, and the power forward has been dealing with nagging ankle injuries all season.

The cherry on top to Rose and Gibson’s injuries is the left elbow injury to Jimmy Butler. The Bulls’ fourth-year star left the loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday after getting hit with a hard screen, and an MRI revealed that Butler will miss three-to-six weeks with the injury. The hits just keep on coming.

Photo Credit: ChatSports.com

Photo Credit: ChatSports.com

Rose may have an MVP to his name, but Butler has been the Bulls’ best player this season. He has blossomed into a star after failing to agree to a contract extension with Chicago, and the bet he made on himself will likely earn him a max contract in the offseason.

Butler is averaging 20.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists this season, marks that would be career highs. He’s shooting 46.2 percent overall from the field and 35.1 percent from three, stark improvements over his woeful shooting numbers from last season. And while his defense has slipped from last year, some of that can be attributed to taking on a much larger offensive role.

With Butler and Rose both sidelined, the Bulls are going to have big problems scoring. The offense already started to look ragged after Rose went out, and it’ll be even worse now that the two best shot creators on the team are out.

Pau Gasol will have to take on a bigger burden, which could be tough for the veteran. Tony Snell will move into the starting lineup, and while Snell has been shooting lights-out of late, it remains to be seen how efficient he can be in a larger role with higher usage. Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich have been really struggling at point guard, and one or both of them need to turn it around.

It’ll be interesting to see if rookie Doug McDermott will get any playing time. McDermott has been glued to the bench since returning from knee surgery, but he could provide some offense if he got playing time and found his shooting stroke. But it’s no guarantee that the rookie plays, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau may just play rookie Nikola Mirotic at the 3 more. E’Twaun Moore could also see more playing time, and another player could be brought in to help.

Chicago has a tough schedule coming up, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Bulls drop in the standings. Chicago’s odds to win a title already dropped drastically when Rose got hurt, and those odds could get even worse over the coming month. The Bulls currently have 16/1 odds to win the 2015 NBA title, per Bovada.

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