You will never be able to please everyone all of the time, dissent is inevitable. The Chicago Bulls got one of the best games from Patrick Williams this season in a disappointing and telling 108-107 loss against the Orlando Magic.
It came down to a buzzer-beater from Magic guard Jalen Suggs but several Bulls miscues and poor performances laid the necessary groundwork.
But at least one league figure thinks they are hurting their own cause.
According to The Athletic’s Bulls insider, Darnell Mayberry, a rival scout was “amazed the Bulls are still trotting out Patrick Williams”. The embattled Williams had 12 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and one steal but, per Mayberry, the scout “refused to consider the third-year forward anything above “terrible.”
Williams’ Green Light
Despite the solid statistical performance from Williams, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan decided to sit him for the closing minutes of the tightly-contested defeat. But it was another roster decision that Mayberry highlights as “egregious” and that is not bringing Javonte Green into the game much sooner.
Green played only 17 minutes but had eight points, three steals, two assists, and one steal finishing with a game-high plus-minus of plus-17.
“When he finally entered,” explained Mayberry, “Green unsurprisingly was the spark the Bulls needed. He ignited Chicago with his defense, hustle and, of course, highlights.”
Donovan said he wanted to reward Derrick Jones Jr. for playing well recently. But he did experiment with Green and Jones in the starting lineup during the preseason.
Williams was initially on the bench when Green first entered the game in the third quarter. But he was a part of the group that rallied back to tie the game at 94-all with 6:41 to go in the fourth quarter getting to the line for a pair of free throws, grabbing a key rebound, and nailing a three.
Green was doing much of the same.
Even Williams’ three was sandwiched between a pair of steals by Green who put the exclamation point on the second one with a highlight-reel slam.
“Woo did a great job,” said Green’s teammate Zach LaVine. “He does that every night. That’s what he does. Comes in the game plays hard, physical. Changes the momentum. He gets up in the air and gets the crowd going.”
To this point, Green has the third-best efficiency differential on the team behind Alex Caruso and Goran Dragic at plus-13.1, per Cleaning The Glass. Meanwhile, Williams’ differential is the Bulls’ second-worst at minus-15.4; ahead of only second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu.
Bulls in Dire Straits
The underlying problem the Bulls face, according to Mo Dakhil of Bleacher Report and The Athletic, is the Bulls’ young players simply do not have the high ceiling the front office believes they do.
And that puts the Bulls even further behind the 8-ball on how to proceed.
“That shouldn’t even be a two-timeline team,” Dakhil told Sam Vecenie on the “Game Theory” podcast on November 18. “The idea that they think these guys are going to develop into these future pieces in a different world, I don’t know what universe you’re living in right now if you’re a Chicago front office if that’s what you’re looking at.”
Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has come under fire for the current state of the franchise.
Their efforts to manufacture a quick turnaround appear to have been too short-sighted.
They doubled down on that this offseason after failing to address many of the same issues currently dogging them at last year’s deadline. Now, they are floundering and the vultures could soon begin to swirl.
LaVine’s stepback three in an off-night shooting the ball with the Bulls down two points late got him benched and was arguably the true turning point of the game. But, as is the case with DeMar DeRozan or Nikola Vucevic – even Dosunmu given his position – there are many reasons Green has no chance of starting over LaVine barring injury.
That leaves Williams who has played well of late and even finished as a plus-4 against Orlando, better than both Dosunmu and LaVine.
But he has alternated single and double-digit scoring performances while finishing with a negative plus-minus in each of the Bulls’ previous two outings including being a minus-45 combined in losses to the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans.
Losers of four straight and six of their last seven, the Bulls need more from Williams.