Chicago Bulls

For Bulls fans, Lauri Markkanen can’t return soon enough

Lauri Markkanen isn’t far off from making his season debut, and that should have Chicago Bulls fans fired up.

If you ask a Chicago Bulls fan, they will probably tell you that they want the Bulls to tank the 2018-19 season for a chance at Duke’s Zion Williamson in the 2019 NBA Draft. So far, Chicago isn’t doing a bad job with that at 5-16.

But the fact of the matter is that Bulls fans are miserable this year. Their team stinks, and to this point they’ve been without Lauri Markkanen, the lone bright spot in Chicago’s basketball universe.

Even if fans want the Bulls to bottom out for the rest of the season, they would be lying through their teeth if they said they aren’t sitting on the edge of their seat in anticipation for Markkanen’s return.

Fortunately, they shouldn’t have to wait too much longer. According to a report on NBA.com, Markkanen should be returning from his elbow injury very soon.

“He’s passed every hurdle that he’s had, as far as being medically cleared and going out and doing the individual workouts, having a controlled contact 2-on-2 session and then yesterday coming and going full-court 2-on-2 with some of our players,” Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said before his team played the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night, a 108-107 loss for Chicago.

It’s never easy to watch your team be a cellar dweller in the NBA. It should be especially frustrating for Bulls fans who lived through 1990s and witnessed the greatness of Michael Jordan — and six championships — firsthand, and are now just longing to see Chicago find its way back to the glory days.

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A promising young star like Markkanen, who averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds as a rookie last year, has given Bulls fans hope for a bright future. And even though they would love to see their team have a shot at Williamson in the upcoming draft, there is no doubt they are licking their chops at the thought of seeing Markkanen back on the court at the United Center.

After all, the 21-year-old from Finland is really all they have to cheer for right now.

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