After wowing every basketball nerd watching Summer League, Wendell Carter Jr. is on the cusp of being the next in a line of Chicago Bulls greats. Great nicknames, that is. He can join the ranks of Lauri Markkanen, Doug McDermott and Jimmy Butler in Chicago lore. The question is, which will it be: Oatmeal or The Block Panther? Yeah, that’s right. We’ve got to talk about nicknames. This is important.
Oatmeal, at first, doesn’t sound like it should be mentioned alongside nicknames like Dougie McBuckets, The Finnisher, and Jimmy G Buckets. It sounds weird, and some would argue that Wendell’s other nickname, The Block Panther, is better. Maybe Wendell even prefers Block Panther, as his draft day outfit was very Wakandian-esque. Still, Oatmeal just has a certain charm to it. And no one can argue that it’s not fitting.
Down in the Chicago Bulls subreddit (r/chicagobulls), the origin of Oatmeal can be traced back to one particular reddit user, “Buttkickingcow”. On a picture of Wendell working out, this creative genius pointed out that Carter Jr. was “…without a doubt thicker than the thickest bowl of oatmeal.” That may seem a little odd, but when you look at the Bulls’ center of the future, it makes sense. Carter is 6’10” and weighs 258 pounds, very clearly falling into the “Thick” range of the BBMI (Basketball Body Mass Index).
The parallels between Wendell and oatmeal aren’t obvious, but the more you look the better it fits. Wendell will be the backbone of this young team’s defense, much like oatmeal is the backbone of every breakfast. Neither Wendell nor oatmeal does anything amazingly exciting, yet both are still needed if you want to have a well rounded team/breakfast. Add a little brown sugar (Markkanen), and you’ve got a delicious meal and a tantalizing front court.
Oatmeal is a unique nickname, too. While there are many movie nicknames (The Matrix and Frodo come to mind), there really is only one food-based nickname in the NBA: White Chocolate. Expand those parameters to actual names and we get players like Steph Curry, John Salmons, and O.J. Mayo (double points). Kobe Bean Bryant fits somewhere in there as well. But none of those carry as much creativity and nickname-sexiness as Oatmeal.
The Block Panther has a claim for the throne too. Again, Wendell showed up to the NBA Draft in Wakanda threads and he blocks a lot of shots. Simple enough. The problem with this nickname is that it’s lame and cheesy. This is the nickname equivalent of the guy who makes bad puns all day and thinks he’s the second coming of George Carlin. The biggest problem with The Block Panther is that the name can only be used when Wendell blocks a shot. Say Wendell hits his fourth 3 pointer in a row, or finishes a fast break with a windmill jam, you can’t yell out “The Block Panther!” like you can “Oatmeal!”
The one who holds the keys to all of this is the Chicago Bulls color commentator, Stacey King. Stacey is the Nickname Guru, the Monarch of Monikers, the Baron of Bynames. No one else could make Omer Asik sound cool (“Asik and Destroy”, “The Super Bull from Istanbul”, “Turkish Delight”, etc). He’s got full control over whether Oatmeal or The Block Panther comes out on top. The first highlight play of Wendell’s (hopefully) long and fruitful career could set the tone for everything. Will this Bulls rookie have just another nickname, as forgettable as a 58th pick in the draft, or will his nickname be up there with “Magic” and “Doctor J” as the greatest of its generation?
I’ll hang up and listen for Stacey’s call of Wendell’s first highlight reel moment. It’s coming soon.
Which Bulls player will come up consistently clutch this season?
Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys pick up where they left off on yesterday’s episode talking about what the fourth quarter of games might look like. Jordan and Matt dive into clutch time statistics, what they mean, how they are important, and where the young Bulls core ended up last season. The second half of the show the guys kick off their newest segment of “Most Iconic Moments in Bulls History” with 32 different storylines that have defined the Chicago Bulls. The guys start with Michael Jordan’s “I’m Back” fax vs. Derrick Rose’s press conference asking “Why Can’t I Be MVP?”. The guys discuss the importance of both and ultimately which one moves on. Vote for either on Twitter (@LockedOnBulls) and join the discussion at (331)-979-1369.
Bulls Voicemail: Who are you relying on to take the clutch shot?
Locked On Bulls is back with their weekly Bulls mailbag show, the guys kick off the episode with a voicemail about comparing Lauri Markkanen to Rasheed Wallace. The guys compare both players, why Matt and Jordan don’t necessarily see a connection and ultimately what Markkanen should be working on this season. Second voicemail is in response to an early question asking how Fred Hoiberg can get back into the good graces with Bulls fans who don’t believe in him. Third voicemail is a call about not necessarily needing to sign a top-tier free agent in 2019 in order to compete. Last voicemail of the show asks who we would like to see take the last shot in close games this season. Matt and Jordan dive into some clutch time statistics from last year to try and make a case for any of the five Bulls core players. All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.
Three Factors That Will Determine Bulls Playoff Chances
The Chicago Bulls won 27 games last season making it their lowest winning season since 2004. The Bulls were 26th in the NBA in points per game and 27th in points allowed per game. They were also 29th in the league in total point differential at -577 points. Although the Bulls had their worst season of the decade, the new and young additions to the roster may induce a playoff berth in a struggling Eastern Conference.
When deciding whether or not the Bulls are a playoff team, these questions come to mind:
- Can an injury-prone starting lineup remain healthy?
- Will Jabari Parker finally become the elite player he got drafted to be?
- Are other teams in the East too good?
Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room, this Bulls starting lineup has a long history of significant injuries. Whether they can remain healthy is a question that could make or break their playoff chances. The two biggest concerns for the Bulls regarding health is Jabari Parker and Zach LaVine. Parker and LaVine have a combined three ACL tears in the past two years. We know from previous years with Derrick Rose that it is difficult to stay healthy and yield the same production after an injury like Parker and LaVine suffered. But it wasn’t just Parker and LaVine who were recovering from injuries throughout last season.
Kris Dunn missed 11 games due to a concussion after a hard fall in January. He missed a few more games due to minor injuries like a dislocated finger, patella tendinitis, and a big toe sprain.
Bulls sophomore Lauri Markkanen missed a total of 14 games last season dealing with some minor injuries. Markkanen’s “back stiffness” was the main reason for most of his missed games. You could argue that some of Markkanen’s “rest days” came at the end of the season when the Bulls were trying to get a better draft pick.
Health is perhaps the biggest factor in whether the Bulls can make the playoffs. A healthy Bulls team can be a productive one with this young and talented lineup. No player necessarily needs to be a star if the team is healthy. Each player in the starting lineup is capable of scoring 15 per game with ease. If they all remain healthy, it’s not hard to see them as the 8th seed in the East.
After the Bulls offered Parker a questionable $20 million deal, expectations have never been higher for the Simeon legend. Many Bulls fans are wondering if Parker can be the scoring threat he once was with the Bucks. As much as I hate being reminded of it, I can’t help but think of Rose’s struggles on the floor after his ACL tear.
It’s not just about whether Parker can remain healthy. Can he still show the explosiveness and athleticism he had prior to the injuries? Driving to the rim and creating his own shots off the dribble are substantial elements of Jabari’s game. If that is taken away from him due to his injuries, we may not see the player the Bulls paid for.
The East has been the significantly weaker conference over the past several seasons. It’s for this reason the Bulls’ chances of making a playoff appearance are a lot greater than they would be if they were in the West. There were a total of five teams under 30 wins in the East last year and every team that didn’t make the playoffs was under .500. There were only four teams in the East that had 50 or more wins. One of those teams was the Cleveland Cavaliers. Obviously, the Cavs will struggle to reach the playoffs this season without LeBron James.
The Bull could pull off a mediocre 42-win season and still manage to make the playoffs. Not many teams in the East improved their roster quite like the Bulls. They drafted what looks to be one of the more talented and NBA-ready rookies in the league in Wendell Carter Jr., signed a proven scorer in Parker, and continue to develop young and talented players like Markkanen, Dunn and Bobby Portis.
The Bulls are one of the most improved teams in the NBA if they can remain healthy and Parker can live up to everyone’s expectations. They have scorers all over their starting lineup and players like Portis and Antonio Blakeney wanting to prove themselves off the bench. Whether you want the Bulls to make the playoffs or not, there is no doubt they will be a fun team to watch come October.