Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan went on the record during training camp with a declaration that his team’s power forward situation could be surprisingly fluid this season. And with just two days remaining until his club tips off its 2022-23 campaign against the Miami Heat, that definitely looks to be the case.
In recent days, things have seemingly trended in the direction of Patrick Williams. The former No. 4 pick made a strong closing argument, going for 22-5-5 in Chicago’s exhibition finale. Meanwhile, his biggest challenger — veteran Javonte Green — suffered a hip pointer during practice last Thursday.
Flash forward to now, though, and it looks like Green — who has been one of the Bulls’ best players throughout the preseason — could still be an opening-night option at the position.
As relayed by NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson, Green was a full participant in practice on Saturday and Monday after having been held out on Friday. Johnson further reported that the baller’s hip is no longer an issue. That would suggest he’s in line to suit up and play against Jimmy Butler and Co. on October 19.
The Unexpected Battle Between Williams & Green
The competition that arose at the power forward spot was perhaps the most surprising story to come out of Bulls training camp. After all, the big battle at point guard had been expected with Lonzo Ball undergoing another knee surgery. And Ayo Dosunmu ended up winning that job several days before the Bulls’ final preseason game.
However, Williams — arguably the most important player on the roster when looking toward the future — ceding his starting spot first to Green and, later, to Derrick Jones Jr., in a pair of exhibition bouts was wholly unexpected.
With Williams often lacking the aggressiveness that everyone so desperately wants to see from him, though, and Green dropping 15 points and five rebounds per preseason contest while shooting 71.4% from the field and 66.7% from deep, it’s little wonder he was given a shot.
It’s also worth noting that the 6-foot-4 Green started in 45 games for the Bulls last season. The majority of those starts did come on the wing, though.
The Bulls Player Who Definitely Shouldn’t Start at PF
When Williams went down with a wrist injury last season, it was actually All-Star DeMar DeRozan who picked up a lot of the frontcourt slack. And while he had an incredible bounce-back year — and was even a sneaky MVP candidate in the early going — one East exec would advise Donovan against revisiting the strategy.
“[DeRozan] was not the same player at the end of the year that he was through the first three or four months,” the exec told Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney in September. “I am convinced that’s because he was just worn down from playing at the four so much.
“He can do it in stretches and give him all the credit in the world for going out there and doing it without complaining. He didn’t b**** about that at all last year. But you can’t ask him to play that much at the four the way they did last year — he is not big enough.”
Over his last 20 games, DeRozan posted a ghastly effective field goal percentage of 47.6, and things were even worse on the defensive end. Over that same span, he had the second-worst D-rating on the team at 120.4 (his number checked in at 108.9 through his first 56 games).