Central Notes: Williams, Donovan, Jackson, Grant, Pistons

Bulls forward Patrick Williams, the fourth overall pick of the 2020 draft, might not be progressing at the rate that many had hoped, but he is still improving, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. The 21-year-old scored a season-high 22 points on just eight shot attempts in Wednesday’s victory over Brooklyn. He also contributed seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.

I’m just maturing in this league,” Williams said. “That [wrist] surgery last year cost me, what? Sixty-some [65] games? But where it cost me was the experience, playing. So I’m trying to learn on the fly and get better. And to be honest with you, I’m enjoying this maturation process. Maybe not everyone else is enjoying how quickly it’s happening, but my mindset has changed a lot lately and I feel like so has the mindset of my teammates.”

Williams, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason, is averaging 9.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 0.9 BPG on .462/.411/.929 shooting through 38 games (28.7 MPG).

Here’s more from the Central:

  • There has been some talk of Zach LaVine being frustrated about not getting his number called in clutch situations at the end of games, even though he publicly said he was fine with DeMar DeRozan getting most of those looks. Bulls head coach Billy Donovan pushed back on the notion that LaVine isn’t involved in his late-game plays, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).
  • Pacers big man Isaiah Jackson has been out of the rotation lately, so he’s temporarily heading to the G League to get more playing time with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters, including Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). The Pacers tweaked their starting lineup to go small, starting three guards and Aaron Nesmith at power forward, which moved Jalen Smith to backup center and cut into Jackson’s minutes. Jackson, who turns 21 next week, was the 22nd pick of the 2021 draft.
  • Forward Jerami Grant was traded to Portland in the offseason, but he appreciated his time with the Pistons, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscriber link). “I think it was a very important step in my career,” Grant said. “For me, just going (to Detroit) and being able to kind of spread my wings and show people what I can do. Not just on the defensive end, but also on the offensive end. I think it opened a lot of people’s eyes going there. I’m grateful for Detroit and (general manager) Troy (Weaver).”
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