When the Charlotte Bobcats signed Development League call-up Jeff Adrien in early December, coach Mike Dunlap described Adrien as “low-maintenance.”
By that, Dunlap meant Adrien wouldn’t expect minutes, but the 6-foot-7 forward would stay ready whenever he was needed. Monday’s 91-81 road victory against the Chicago Bulls illustrated Dunlap’s point.
With various forwards hurt (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Byron Mullens and Tyrus Thomas), Dunlap was juggling his player rotation. Adrien hadn’t played more than five minutes in any previous Bobcats game, but he played 15 of a possible 24 in the second half. In those 15 minutes, Adrien supplied seven points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Dunlap said he particularly liked how Adrien “played physical.”
Adrien has no other choice. At 6-7 he’s small for a power forward, so he has to be rugged. The Bobcats are now spread thin at that spot, with Hakim Warrick jumping from outside the rotation to starter after Mullens went down with a severe ankle sprain. By game’s end against the Bulls, Adrien had a career-high three blocked shots and tied a career-high with 10 rebounds.
When Thomas originally suffered his left-calf injury in mid-November, he was projected to be out approximately two months. Dunlap indicated Monday Thomas is progressing well enough to be back sooner.
Thomas has been running, cutting and jumping for a couple of weeks now, and is starting to participate more in practice. Dunlap didn’t project when Thomas would return to the active roster other than to say it should happen before mid-January.
The Bobcats haven’t projected when Mullens will be back, but Mullens mentioned on Twitter Monday that his rehabilitation is progressing well.
After a rough span (four games in five nights out West), the Bobcats’ schedule is loosening up. They don’t have a game until Friday, and then they play two beatable opponents: Cleveland at home, following by a Sunday road game against Detroit. Six of the Bobcats’ previous eight opponents are likely playoff teams this season, and six of those games were on the road.