If the Chicago Bulls hit on their offseason additions, it could force a shakeup to the starting lineup.
This offseason, the Bulls signed veterans Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig in free agency, shoring up a couple of bench spots, at the very least. But there is some thought that they could offer even more than that.
“The Bulls targeted Torrey Craig this summer for … two reasons,” wrote Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report on August 17. “He is versatile and tireless at [the defensive] end. … Second, he ramped up his outside shooting this past season and wound up with career highs in makes (1.3 per game) and accuracy (39.5).”
Buckley’s “bold predictions” include Craig seeing more minutes than Patrick Williams and ultimately starting ahead of Williams.
Craig, 32, averaged 7.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists last season. He stands 6-foot-7 and is listed at 221 pounds – measurements very similar to Williams, who was removed from the starting lineup after stagnating last season.
Williams was the No. 4 overall pick of the 2020 NBA draft and the Bulls have held onto him despite his not developing as quickly as some felt Chicago needed to take a step forward.
“As for Williams, he might benefit from playing a prominent role with the second team instead of a supporting one with the starters,” Buckley continued. “He is still in the developmental stage of his career — he hasn’t even turned 22 yet — so he needs all the touches he can get.”
Patrick Williams’ Striving for ‘Consistency’
Williams, who turns 22 years old on August 26, posted career highs appearing in all 82 games and averaging 10.2 points, adding 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists while shooting 41.5% from beyond the arc last season. But he admitted he could have done more with the opportunities he was given.
“I wanted to be more consistent,” he said, per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic in April. “I think the opportunity was there. I don’t think I grasped it. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t.”
Williams’ biggest battle has been with his ability to be aggressive offensively. He did average 1.0 more attempts per game over the final 20 games of the regular season than he did over the first 20 games.
But he still battled with watching the ball, particularly on things like rebounding.
“It’s gotten better, but we need it to be more consistent,” head coach Billy Donovan said, per Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune on April 2. “When he does go, he’s an elite rebounder and he’s got great strength. He’s a guy in very, very tight spaces that gets off the floor and can really rebound.”
Williams has trained with DeMar DeRozan for the last two offseasons, in part to pick up on the habits that have led to a 15-year career for the latter.
Another Prediction for the Bulls’ Starting Lineup
It’s not just Craig who could usurp an incumbent Bulls starter. Buckley also wrote that Carter has a strong chance to be on the floor more than most, predicting he’ll finish fourth on the team in minutes.
“Carter comes closest to matching the skill set a healthy [Lonzo] Ball once provided. He isn’t the same caliber of passer—though he consistently makes smart decisions—but he is similar in his defensive tenacity and low-maintenance offense,” Buckley wrote. “Between Carter’s defense and off-ball offense, he seems like the simplest fit alongside the Bulls’ big three.”
That might not be what bears out this season, though.
“Jevon will bring some of the defense we lost at the lead guard spot with Lonzo (Ball) out,” an anonymous team source told Keith Smith of Spotrac on July 14. “And he can shoot too. Coby has come a long way. We think he could win Sixth Man of the Year.”
Both of these predictions would follow suit with that of NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson’s thoughts on how things could shake out, though he believes Williams will start.
However, that does not mean he will finish the season as a starter.