Bulls HC Billy Donovan Clears Air After Making Bold Decision

Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls reacts to game action.

A win is a win. That does not mean it cannot create significant questions for the winning team. In this case, that team is the Chicago Bulls. They got the win in their second preseason game, beating the Denver Nuggets 131-113. Denver was without Nikola Jokic but Chicago was coming off of a lackluster effort.

After that 129-125 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan addressed the media and laid into his team’s defensive effort.

Ahead of this game, he called for more urgency from his team on offense.

That call to action may have helped lead to Donovan making a seemingly drastic decision with his starting lineup and one of the organization’s former top-10 picks, Patrick Williams. Donovan brought Williams off of the bench while giving Javonte Green the start.

Donovan Sounds Off on Williams

“I thought overall we played better. So, do I like it? Yea. But I thought the group played well. I think there’s certainly things that we can clean up. Javonte has played with that group in the past…So, like I’ve always said, I think it’s trying to find combinations that kind of work together.”

Donovan mentioned not focusing on who would start at point guard with Lonzo Ball out for the foreseeable future during media day.

But he has experimented with lineups in the preseason in the past, as well.

That is all well and good as Donovan also said there was no message being sent to Williams.

Williams was still pulled from the starting lineup and, with that, saw fewer minutes than Green. While Green has been productive both off of the bench and as a starter dating back to last season, Williams’ fit could also be getting clearer.

“Patrick’s certainly more than capable of being a starter. And he’s more than capable, I think of helping off the bench. I think it’s right now, just trying to look at different combinations of guys…I get the starting piece of Patrick being out of the starting lineup. But there was more to it than just Patrick”

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Donovan Trying Something Different

Donovan pulling him in favor of another player’s energy is a clear-cut message that Williams still needs to be more aggressive; just not a new one. The Bulls’ coach previously said during media day that they need Williams to take a leap in his development this season. He has also spoken of Williams holding onto poor plays and becoming tentative.

But this is as direct of an approach as there is for a group that mostly knows each other.

The Bulls returned their top-10 minutes per game leaders from last season while, they hope, strengthening their bench with Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond.

“Look, I get it in terms of where he was drafted, where he was picked,” Donovan told reporters, “but that’s just not who Patrick Williams is. For us, we’ve got to make decisions that are going to be best for our team.” (h/t Cody Westerlund/670 The Score)

This could work in Williams’ favor as he has seemed more comfortable with the ball in his hands which is difficult to do with DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic all posting usage rates above 24% last season.

Williams’ usage rate was 14.2% last season.

It has been 20.5% and 18.2% through two preseason games so there is some hope that Williams was able to take full advantage of his first full summer.

Dalen Terry Applying Pressure

When the Bulls drafted Dalen Terry with the 18th overall pick, it did not take long for him to begin “pushing” Williams. After Terry put on an impressive display in the opener, Donovan cited the rookie’s natural aggression when speaking on Williams.

Terry finished with just five points on 33% shooting against New Orleans.

But he also still flashed his impact and energy in his minutes while finishing with a plus-minus just two points lower than Williams.

Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments