Here at Blogabull.com, we love Cristiano Felicio. Tyler Pleiss couldn’t get him off his mind over the summer. This was written around the same time that Ricky O’Donnell revealed that he is in fact the biological father of the 6’10” Brazilian center. And just a few weeks ago, Jake Weiner essentially wrote an open letter to Bulls management pleading for more court time for Felicio before he enters restricted free agency this summer.
Last night our collective prayers were answered by Fred Hoiberg when Felicio checked into the game at the end of the first quarter and went on to play 15 non-garbage time minutes in the loss to the Pistons. Felicio finished with four points on 2/4 shooting, six rebounds (four offensive!) and one monstrous block that will haunt Ish Smith for the next 10-15 years.
Felicio is huge. Felicio is athletic. Felicio has great instincts and touch around the rim, both on defense and when finishing on offense.
These are qualities that should translate into playing time in today’s NBA, where rim running and rim protection are the two most important things to look for from your center.
Rotations tend to get wonky on the second night of a back-to-back, but Felicio’s opportunity Tuesday did not happen because the big men typically ahead of him in the rotation were tired or injured. Bobby Portis logged just six minutes against Portland on Monday, all coming in the first half.
Perhaps Fred saw this as more of a one-off matchup situation against Detroit’s backup center Aron Baynes, one of the beefier second unit centers in the NBA. I hope that is not the case, and I hope that Hoiberg, tasked to win now and return to the postseason, finds a consistent role for Cristiano Felicio for the rest of the season.