The answer to that question is still yes, but the play of spark plug Javonte Green has to at least have some folks wondering what Chicago would look like if head coach Billy Donovan sent the 20-year-old to the bench to bolster the second unit when he’s healthy.
Why would we even consider such a thing after Williams had a mostly promising rookie campaign and a strong summer of work before he hurt himself last month? Well, because Green, who has started both of the Bulls’ preseason tilts–blowout wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Pelicans–has taken his opportunity to shine and run with it.
Through the first 2 preseason games, this is what Green is averaging per game: 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2.5 blocks. Green has posted a cumulative +54 plus/minus score in a combined 35 minutes of action. Is he benefitting from the obvious injection of talent on the roster and the Bulls playing two pretty horrible squads in the preseason? Absolutely. However, there is no denying the positive impact of his energy and basketball instincts.
One Bulls analyst sees some traits of former Donovan favorites in Green.
Javonte Green Compared to Lou Dort and Andre Roberson
The Bulls are smallish at power forward and rather than going for the biggest guy remotely close to a power forward’s size, Donovan has turned to Green because of his energy, athleticism and mentality.
Bulls analyst Stephen Noh loves the decision to start Green in the preseason and he drew comparisons to a couple players Donovan coached in Oklahoma City.
Green isn’t much of an offensive threat, but he’s a super athlete that can cut for easy baskets, sit in the dunker’s spot for dump off layups, and crash the offensive glass. He did all of that in the preseason opener and looked intriguing as a low usage option that can help shore up the defense. Even if Green doesn’t win the job, players like Derrick Jones Jr, Troy Brown, and Stanley Johnson serve basically the same role of being Donovan’s Lu Dort/Andre Roberson from his Thunder days. Donovan has turned non-shooting athletic wings into key pieces on many of his teams. Green was fantastic in the Bulls’ defensive scheme, recording four blocks and two steals. The Bulls’ defense as a whole was way better than the national pundits expected, although it is really hard to parse out how much of that was due to horrendous play from the Cavs. Still, you can only play who is in front of you and the Bulls were able to do that extremely well, forcing the Cavs into a putrid 86.4 offensive rating (for a little context, the worst offensive rating last season was 102.8 by the Thunder).
Green and Dort are similar in height, listed at 6’4 and 6’3, respectively. However, Dort is the heavier of the two with the thicker frame. Roberson, who played in just 5 games on a non-guaranteed contract with the Brooklyn Nets last season, has a frame similar to Green.
However, he wasn’t the same kind of athlete from a run and jump perspective. Roberson is currently a free agent.
Williams Should Be Taking Queues From Green’s Approach
Williams is a far more talented player than Green, but in all honesty, this Bulls team doesn’t really need him to show everything he’s capable of doing offensively. In fact, if he simply watched the aggression Green played with on both ends of the floor in the first two preseason games, and emulated that approach, Chicago would be all the better for it.
Williams is 6’7″, very athletic and strong. He’s a better three-point shooter and probably just as good of a ballhandler as Green. Simply being a taller version of the Bulls’ new spark plug would be ideal for Williams.
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