Patrick Williams

Bulls Notes: Lineup, Williams, Dosunmu, Donovan

The Bulls made a change to their starting lineup on Friday against Golden State, replacing Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams with Alex Caruso and Javonte Green.

The new-look starting lineup didn’t exactly set the world on fire – the five-man group was outscored by seven points in just over 10 minutes of action – but head coach Billy Donovan said he liked what he saw and doesn’t expect it will just be a one-game tweak, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. He added that it wasn’t a defensive-minded move to try to slow down the high-powered Warriors.

“It was more to see, ‘Let’s see what this looks like,'” Donovan said, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I’m always evaluating and you’re not trying to make a decision after two or three games. But I think there’s a pretty decent body of work for the number of games we played. And I just wanted to take a look at something different.”

Dosunmu and Williams remained in the rotation, logging 21 and 19 minutes respectively, and Donovan said he appreciated how they handled the new roles.

“I understand there’s always a level of prestige with starting. I get all that. But I also think those guys see a bigger picture,” Donovan said. “It’s not like I said to them, ‘Hey listen, I’m moving you out of the starting lineup and you’re out of the rotation.’ I was really pleased with the way both responded. They’re team guys. They want to win. I’m sure in their heart of hearts want to start. But I also think the team is more important to them.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Donovan is hoping that the move to the second unit will encourage Williams, a former No. 4 overall pick, to avoid getting passive on offense. “The one thing we’ve been trying to do is to try to get him to be more aggressive,” Donovan said, per Johnson. “I think being out there with three terrific offensive players in Zach (LaVine) and Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) and DeMar (DeRozan), sometimes there aren’t as many opportunities. I told him in doing this I wanted him to be more aggressive offensively, that he was going to need to be somebody who could give that group a little bit of a pop. I look at it that this may actually help his development.”
  • Although the Bulls were pleased that Dosunmu and Williams accepted the lineup change without complaint, LaVine suggested that his teammates should view their demotions as a challenge. “I don’t think they should be happy or satisfied with it at all,” LaVine said, according to Johnson.
  • Writing for The Sun-Times, Cowley questions why Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf kept a lid on the contract extension that Donovan signed with the team before the season began, arguing that it’s a disservice to fans to try to keep that sort of move under wraps.
  • Donovan’s extension is a reflection of how the connection between him and president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has grown in recent years, according to Johnson, who notes that the two men speak almost daily and says there’s “never any misunderstanding in their shared, direct conversation.”

Bulls Notes: Williams, Caruso, Inconsistent Output

The play of 21-year-old Bulls starting power forward Patrick Williams has steadily improved month-over-month this season, and the 6’7″ forward out of FSU registered his excitement about that growth, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

As Johnson observes, Williams averaged 7.1 PPG and 2.0 RPG while shooting 35.3% on 2.4 threes per game in October. He is putting up 11.3 PPG and 5.2 RPG thus far in November, while connecting on 50% of his 3.3 long-range looks a night this month.

“I think I’m still figuring it out,” Williams said of his play. “But I’m 100 percent locked in on being the player that I want to be… I always felt I had what it took to be a really good player in this league. But now I’m starting to feel like I have what it takes to be a star and a superstar in this league. I’m kind of trying to take that role on and build on it day-by-day… Kind of trying to take it in my own mind now and show that on the court.”

There’s more out of Chicago:

  • Bulls reserve guard Alex Caruso sprained his right ankle during Chicago’s overtime loss to the Thunder on Friday. He sat out the contact components of a team practice Sunday due to the injury, and is now questionable to play for Chicago against the Jazz on Monday, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I just know there was a point in regulation where I could tell his foot was bothering him,” head coach Billy Donovan said regarding the timing of the injury. “The last 2 minutes of overtime, it looked like he planted and I could tell he winced pretty severely. He said, ‘You gotta take me out.’ He didn’t feel like he could move well enough.”
  • The 8-11 Bulls have had an up-and-down season thus far. Chicago is continuing to strive for steadier output this season, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Cowley notes that the team’s middling record belies some of its more impressive performances, including a pair of victories over the Celtics and wins over the Bucks, Raptors and Heat. Losing several close games in 2022/23 has cost Chicago. “I think that’s just where we are,” All-Star small forward DeMar DeRozan said. “Kind of went through so many emotions already 20 games into the season. Sometimes you’ve got to soak in that hurt and kind of generate that to being competitors, and that’s where I think we are now.’’ The team is hoping to stack up some wins on the remaining four games of its road trip, but will have to do so against several postseason-contending Western Conference clubs in the Jazz, Suns, Warriors, and Kings.
  • In case you missed it, All-Star Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine was initially upset at being benched late in the fourth quarter last week, during an eventual 108-107 loss to the Magic. LaVine later clarified that he holds no ill will toward Donovan for the benching.

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, Vucevic, Williams, Drummond

It has been hard to know what to expect from the Bulls on a night-to-night basis so far this season.

After capping a four-game losing streak with a home loss to Orlando last Friday, the team had its two best wins of the season on Monday in Boston and Wednesday in Milwaukee. The win over the Bucks was Chicago’s best defensive outing of the year, as Darnell Mayberry wrote for The Athletic.

However, the Bulls followed up those two statement games with a letdown performance on Friday, falling in overtime to Oklahoma City.

According to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, head coach Billy Donovan had braced for some up and downs in the early part of this season as the club tried to move away from leaning so heavily on DeMar DeRozan‘s isolation-heavy offense and late-game heroics.

“DeMar took us as far as he can take us (last season), and we really have to look at, OK, how can we make another step or jump?” Donovan said. “If we get back to that, where it’s all (isolations) all the time, it just gets too easy to defend. This is going to take some time offensively for us to play the way we need to play, which is a little bit different.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • The 2021 deadline trade that sent Nikola Vucevic to Chicago has netted the Magic a pair of potential building blocks (Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr.), with another lightly protected first-round pick still to come. Still, Vucevic isn’t worried about the critics who wish the Bulls hadn’t made the deal. “I know some people want to bring back the trade, the picks that were given, but it happened,” Vucevic told Cowley of The Sun-Times. “If it didn’t, it’s not for sure the Bulls would have picked Wagner or hit on the pick. Who knows what would have happened?” As Cowley observes, without the Vucevic trade, it’s also not clear whether free agents DeRozan and Lonzo Ball would’ve chosen Chicago later in 2021.
  • It has taken some time for former No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams to get comfortable at the NBA level, but the third-year forward finally seems to be finding a rhythm, according to Cowley, who writes for The Sun-Times that Williams hasn’t looked as passive recently as he did during the first few weeks of the season.
  • Although two-time All-Star Andre Drummond is averaging a career-low 15.4 minutes per game this season, he has no intention of pushing for more playing time as long as the Bulls believe his limited role gives them the best chance to win games. “I’m at a point now where I’m just focusing on winning,” Drummond said this week, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I told Billy and the guys when I came here from the beginning: ‘Whatever you guys need me to do to help win, that’s what I’m willing to do.’ If that’s to play eight minutes, 12 minutes, 30 minutes, I’m able to do that. I’m cool with the role that I have. I just have to maintain it.”

Injury Updates: Magic, Bulls, Celtics, Raptors, Heat, Hayward, More

The Magic will be getting some reinforcements for Friday’s game in Chicago, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Veteran guard Gary Harris has been cleared to make his regular season debut following offseason arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Price reports. Additionally, starting center Wendell Carter Jr. will be back in the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game due to a strained right plantar fascia.

Orlando’s opponents also got some good injury-related news on Friday. As Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes, Bulls guard Coby White (left quad contusion) and forward Patrick Williams (right ankle sprain) both said at Friday’s shootaround that they’ll be able to play against the Magic. White has missed the last eight games as a result of his injury; Williams sprained his ankle on Wednesday, but it appears the injury won’t cost him any games.

Here are several more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • As expected, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon will be available on Friday vs. New Orleans after missing four games with a hamstring injury. However, the team announced that Marcus Smart (right ankle inflammation) will miss a second straight game (Twitter link).
  • The already shorthanded Raptors will be missing Gary Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher on Saturday vs. Atlanta due to non-COVID illnesses, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. However, Eric Koreen of The Athletic tweets that Dalano Banton‘s ankle sprain isn’t as serious as initially feared and Pascal Siakam (adductor strain) has resumed on-court activity. Another update on Siakam is expected in a week or so, Koreen adds.
  • Heat star Jimmy Butler (knee soreness) has been ruled out for Friday’s game against Washington and it’s possible that Bam Adebayo (knee contusion) won’t be available either, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Adebayo is currently listed as questionable.
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, who has been on the shelf since November 2 due to a left shoulder contusion, has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable for Friday’s game vs. Cleveland, according to the team (Twitter link).
  • Pacers sharpshooter Chris Duarte isn’t expected to be available during the team’s upcoming four-game home stand, but could return from his ankle sprain at some point in the subsequent seven-game road trip, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. That trip begins on November 27 and runs through December 7.
  • Sixers guard Jaden Springer, currently assigned to the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League, will miss at least one week due to a right quadriceps strain, tweets Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com.

Bulls Notes: Dosunmu, Markkanen, Williams, Ball, White

Second-year Bulls point guard Ayo Dosunmu wants his head coach Billy Donovan to hold nothing back in his approach, and Donovan has delivered, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Mayberry notes that Donovan is generally more conversant with younger Chicago players than he is with the team’s vets.

“He just wants me to reach my full potential,” Dosunmu said of Donovan. “He tells me a lot. He’s always coaching with tough love. I love that because that’s making me become a better player. I want to soak up as much information as I can to try to get better every game. Coach does that. He’s always on me when I do things positive and negative. And I think at the end of the day that’s going to make me become a better player and help our team become a better team.”

In his second NBA season, the 6’5″ guard out of Illinois is averaging 11.7 PPG on .488/.353/.923 shooting splits. He is also chipping in 3.8 RPG, 3.2 APG and 0.8 SPG.

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Seven-foot Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, drafted by the Bulls with the No. 7 pick in 2017 out of Arizona, has enjoyed a breakout run with an upstart 10-5 Utah club thus far. Chicago can learn a lot from Markkanen’s growth into a fringe All-Star talent, especially with regards to the way the team handles raw third-year forward Patrick Williams, opines K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
  • Although the Bulls are clearly missing the three-point marksmanship and perimeter defense of injured starting point guard Lonzo Ball, the team’s bigger problems will remain even after he returns, Johnson writes in a separate piece. The Bulls lack reliable volume three-point shooters and solid two-way players, which is part of the reason Chicago has is off to a middling 6-9 start this season.
  • Young Bulls role players Williams and Coby White are listed as questionable to play on Friday against a beatable 4-11 Magic team, reports Rob Schafer of NBC Sports Chicago. White’s status actually represents an improvement, as he has missed the last eight Chicago contests with a left quad contusion. Williams sprained his right ankle late in the Bulls’ 124-110 loss to the Pelicans on Wednesday.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Dosunmu, Williams, Drummond, White

Bulls star Zach LaVine played in both games of a back-to-back set for the first time this season on Tuesday and Wednesday, suiting up in Brooklyn vs. the Nets and then at home vs. the Hornets. LaVine scored just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting on Wednesday, but said after the win that his surgically repaired knee wasn’t an issue, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes.

“I felt good. My legs were tired. A couple of my shots were short,” LaVine said. “But, you know, it was one of them games.”

Given how carefully the Bulls have managed LaVine so far this season coming off left knee surgery, it’s a cause for optimism that he logged a total of 69 minutes across those two games and came out feeling OK. Still, head coach Billy Donovan said the team will continue to take a day-to-day approach to how it handles LaVine’s workload and availability, according to Schaefer.

“I think the thing for him is it’s the cumulative,” Donovan said on Tuesday, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “That’s really where I think (the medical staff is) concerned, like the cumulative buildup of things. He could be totally fine today, come out of this game totally fine. Then let’s say he plays tomorrow. He can wake up the next day and be in some discomfort.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Ayo Dosunmu, who has emerged as the Bulls’ starting point guard in his second NBA season, has impressed his teammates with his leadership, as Schaefer details in another NBC Sports Chicago story. “He steps up to the challenge all the time. Ayo even in his second year is a vocal leader,” LaVine said on Tuesday. “He helps pick up our energy, offensively, defensively, just the way he carries himself.”
  • There have been questions about whether Patrick Williams should keep his spot in the Bulls’ starting lineup, but the former No. 4 overall pick had his best game of the season on Tuesday in Brooklyn. According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, Donovan essentially challenged Williams to do it again, and he responded with an even better performance on Wednesday vs. Charlotte, scoring a season-high 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and posting a positive net rating (+19) for the first time this season.
  • Following Wednesday’s game, Donovan praised Williams for starting to produce more consistently and urged fans to be patient with the forward’s ongoing development. “I get everyone wants to see this progression. But in fairness to him, he hasn’t had a normal two-year NBA schedule like a lot of guys have had. It’s taken him some time,” Donovan said, according to Johnson. “And every player develops and evolves at a different rate.”
  • Andre Drummond (shoulder) and Coby White (quad) have both missed multiple games due to their respective injuries, but the Bulls don’t view either as a long-term concern, Cowley writes for The Sun-Times. According to Donovan, MRIs on both players came back clean.

Bulls Notes: Lineup, Dosunmu, Vucevic, Drummond

Following another slow start, the Bulls were defeated by Philadelphia on Saturday. Coach Billy Donovan will consider juggling his lineup after his team fell behind by 19 points in the first half, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes.

“I think I have to look at that,” Donovan said. “I don’t think there’s any question. Obviously, it’s a small sample size with seven games. But we do have veterans in that lineup. I don’t want to throw them (under the bus). All of us, myself as a coach. We’ve got to figure something out to get off to a better start. We have to look at all those things.”

Power forward Patrick Williams appears to be the most vulnerable in terms of losing his starting job.

We have more on the Bulls:

  • Guard Ayo Dosunmu cleared concussion protocol, but he’s still out of action. He’s dealing with a “thoracic contusion,” according to Donovan. Dosunmu has discomfort in his neck and upper back and is struggling with his mobility, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago tweets.
  • Center Nikola Vucevic has taken the second-most field goal attempts behind only DeMar DeRozan. An assertive Vucevic is essential to the team’s success, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I know how good I am. I know what I bring to the table,” Vucevic said. “I’m a two-time All-Star, so I didn’t get to where I am by chance.”
  • Vucevic played a season-high 36 minutes against the Sixers, in part because backup Andre Drummond was sidelined by a left shoulder sprain.

Bulls Notes: Bench, Drummond, Ball, Williams, DeRozan

The Bulls‘ bench came up big again on Wednesday in the team’s win over Indiana, scoring a season-high 43 points, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Alex Caruso, Goran Dragic, Andre Drummond, Javonte Green, Derrick Jones, and Coby White have all been regular contributors outside of the starting five, with the team frequently running out lineups that feature Zach LaVine and four reserves.

On Wednesday, Dragic was a game-high plus-19, while Caruso (+18), Drummond (+16), and Jones (+16) were right behind him. LaVine (+12), who saw action with those second units, was the only starter who had a positive rating.

“We mesh really well because everybody does what they do at a high level. And I think it complements each other really well,” Caruso said. “Drum gives us that inside presence—great screener, great rebounder, rim protection. Me on the outside kind of stirring everybody up on defense whether it’s Woo (Green) or D.J. helping out with the four-man doing the same thing. And then any of the guards that are in with us, whether it’s Coby, Goran or Zach, doing a good job making decisive decisions.”

Of the Bulls’ lineups that have played at least 10 minutes so far this season, none have performed better than the five-man group of Caruso, Dragic, LaVine, Jones, and Drummond, which has outscored opponents 42-21 in 17 minutes of play.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Drummond, who referred to Chicago’s second unit as “pretty much a starting lineup,” also dubbed himself “the best rebounder of the past century,” Johnson writes for NBC Sports Chicago. And, as Johnson points out, Drummond may have a statistical case for that title, given that his career average of 13.2 rebounds per game ranks first among players since 2000, as does his 24.68% rebounding percentage. The big man is averaging 9.4 RPG this season despite playing just 15.6 MPG.
  • It has been four weeks since the Bulls announced they would reevaluate Lonzo Ball in four-to-six weeks following his knee surgery, but head coach Billy Donovan didn’t have any concrete updates on Wednesday, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “I have not heard anything as of yet with that,” Donovan said. “He’s doing good. He feels like he’s progressing. He’s pretty optimistic and positive about everything. I think the biggest thing with the surgery is the incision healing in order to continue to make progress, and I just don’t know how far along he is in that process.”
  • While Patrick Williams‘ inconsistent start to the season has raised questions about his spot in the starting lineup, it doesn’t sound like Donovan intends to move him to the bench anytime soon, Cowley writes in another Sun-Times story. “I do think that with it being early in the season, taking four or five games and saying, ‘OK, we’re scrapping this,’ you never get a chance to see and maybe get enough information to make those decisions,” Donovan said.
  • In a conversation with David Aldridge of The Athletic, Bulls star DeMar DeRozan spoke about embracing his role as a veteran mentor and enjoying a strong second act to his NBA career after being devastated by the trade that sent him to San Antonio following nine seasons in Toronto. “It’s definitely gratifying from the standpoint that I hope I can be an inspiration for guys who lose confidence in themselves. Or they hit a rock in the road, and (are) struggling to figure it out,” DeRozan said. “There’s always a way. You can’t get down on yourself mentally, you can’t doubt yourself. You can’t get caught up into what everybody else may say and the expectations they put on you. As long as you have the ultimate belief in you and your work ethic, that’s the only thing that matters, that will pay off.”

Bulls Notes: Jones, Reserves, Caruso, Williams

After being held out of the Bulls‘ first two games, Derrick Jones Jr. is trying to prove he deserves regular playing time, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Jones helped change the course of Monday’s win over the Celtics, scoring 10 points in the second quarter during his eight minutes on the court as Chicago turned a nine-point deficit into a seven-point lead. He also made an impact on defense as Boston managed just 15 points in the quarter.

Schaefer notes that Jones might not still be with the Bulls if their offseason pursuit of free agent Danilo Gallinari had been successful. Instead, Gallinari signed with the Celtics and Jones returned to Chicago on a one-year, $3.3MM contract that could turn into a bargain.

“I’ve been through this many times throughout my career,” Jones said of having to fight for a rotation role. “It’s not the first time. I’m good. … Always working. We stay in the gym, even the guys that get low minutes, we stay in the gym.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Jones wasn’t the only Bulls reserve who played well Monday, notes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The team also got contributions from Goran Dragic, Alex Caruso, Javonte Green and Andre Drummond as Chicago’s bench has been an early-season bright spot. “We dug ourselves a hole in that second quarter, but I give our second unit a lot of credit,” coach Billy Donovan said. “I thought those guys came in and really played with great energy and great enthusiasm and kind of turned the game.”
  • Caruso isn’t on an official minutes restriction, but Donovan is closely monitoring his playing time, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Last season, Caruso averaged more minutes in losses than in wins, and the coaching staff wants to make sure he doesn’t burn himself out with his aggressive style of play.
  • Patrick Williams‘ frustrating start to the season continued Monday, but he’s not in any immediate danger of losing his starting spot, according to Julia Poe of The Chicago Tribune. Williams played just 15 minutes against Boston, contributing four points and three rebounds, but Donovan offered support after the game. “Since he’s gotten into the league, he’s been always guarding the team’s best players and he’s always taken it on,” Donovan said. “He’s never batted an eye. I think he has really incredible potential in the future and we all believe in him. This is a process where the more that keeps getting thrown at him competitively, he has to respond.”

Eastern Notes: Crowder, Bucks, Claxton, Williams, Mitchell

What kind of trade package could the Bucks put together for the Suns’ Jae Crowder, considering they’re one of the teams reportedly interested in the veteran forward? Eric Nehm of The Athletic explores that topic, speculating that Milwaukee could deal some combination of Grayson Allen, George Hill and second-round picks.

However, dealing Allen would remove one of the Bucks’ top shooters and it’s questionable whether Crowder would be part of the team’s crunch time unit.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Nets big man Nic Claxton posted back-to-back double-doubles in the team’s first two games. His teammates and coaches want to see him do that consistently, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “I’m happy he played well, we want him to keep it up, but now as a young player in the league he has to show consistency,” Kyrie Irving said. “And we have to be right there with him.” Claxton re-signed with Brooklyn this summer on a two-year, $20MM contract.
  • Bulls forward Patrick Williams has gotten off to a rough start this season, but he’s not discouraged, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “They (coaches and teammates) know, obviously, I want to play well, and I want them to play well, and they want to play well for themselves as well. But just can’t get too down when you don’t play well,” he said. “Just reminding, that was what, game three? Of at least 82. Obviously we want to play past 82. But that was game three of 82.” Williams averaged 5.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in the first three games.
  • The Cavaliers have already embraced Donovan Mitchell as a leader, according to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “He’s just a good dude,” center Jarrett Allen said. “That’s what it boils down to. He is easy to talk to; he doesn’t boast about his accomplishments, he is one of the hardest workers every single game in the gym. It’s easy to root for a guy like that and easy to follow somebody’s lead like that.”