Just over two minutes after tipoff of a Nov. 27 road game versus the Warriors, Chandler Hutchison slammed into a screen and suffered a right shoulder contusion that sidelined him for almost six weeks.
Hutchison started that game, one of six opening nods he received with Otto Porter Jr. sidelined by a foot fracture.
Ten games into his return from that shoulder injury, Hutchison hasn’t started since. And he’s fine with that.
“No, I don’t wish I was starting,” Hutchison said following Thursday’s practice at Advocate Center. “It’s kind of funny: You kind of take some pride being a second-unit guy and coming in and maybe changing the impact of the game. Maybe if we start slow with that first unit then we look around and say, ‘Hey, let’s get these guys going.’ I don’t worry about it too much. I’m just happy I’m playing to be honest.”
Lately, Hutchison has played well. He’s showing signs of being the disruptive defender and player with positional size able to rebound and push the ball in transition.
Over his last five games, he’s averaging 7.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.2 steals in his reserve role. Overall, Hutchison owns averages of 6.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.9 steals.
“I just made a deal with myself that I was going to be aggressive and be the guy who got me. I believe that guy is pretty dang good and is going to be a pretty good player,” Hutchison said. “Everybody has been telling me go. Use my athleticism and my skill to finish at the basket to get to the rim. That has helped me.”
During Wednesday’s home victory over the Timberwolves, Hutchison pursued a loose ball into the stands. He banged his knee on a metal bar from the folding chair provided for courtside customers.
“It was probably one of those things where you probably should just let it go. I’m best when I’m not thinking and flying around trying to make plays. I’m going to play with energy and effort,” he said. “It felt like I got shot in the knee at first. But I was like, ‘I know if I lay down here too much longer, I’m coming out of the game.’ So I had to get up, suck it up and do what I can.”
Hutchison admitted his shoulder still isn’t 100 percent, adding that most any player is nursing some type of bump or bruise at this stage of the season.
When Hutchison originally suffered the shoulder injury, coach Jim Boylen pivoted to Kris Dunn as the new starter in a three-guard lineup alongside Zach LaVine and Tomas Satoransky that has stuck. But Hutchison has logged some closing minutes lately, including in a new-look smaller lineup that features him at power forward.
“I think it’s been working for us,” Hutchison said.
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