Bulls’ Patrick Williams ‘in Jeopardy’ After Billy Donovan Doubles Down

Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

Getty Patrick Williams #44 of the Chicago Bulls looks on.

The Chicago Bulls began their third preseason game with four of the same five starters in place. For the second game in a row, head coach Billy Donovan made a switch at the power forward position.

But, after starting Javonte Green there in the win over the Denver Nuggets just two days earlier, he inserted Derrick Jones, Jr. against the Toronto Raptors.

It was another surprise.

Not only did the Bulls look better on both ends than in the opener, but Donovan also praised Green’s energy as a spark for the starting unit after the guard started 45 games last season. In that praise, however, might lie the explanation for Donovan’s decision which included leaving oft-discussed Patrick Williams coming off the bench.

Williams a Virtual No-Show

Donovan said after the win over the Nuggets that the decision to bring Williams in off of the bench was not meant as a direct message to the 21-year-old. Williams also said that he was “all for” Green drawing the start and that he was just focused on winning.

Williams finished with six points and three rebounds despite playing over 20 minutes, more than either Green or Jones.

He struggled from the floor going 1-for-6 overall and 1-for-3 from beyond the arc.

“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.”

The problem is the Bulls banked a lot of their offseason decision-making on Williams taking a requisite leap in his third season.

Through three preseason games, he has not rewarded their confidence.

He is averaging 7.3 points on 33.3% shooting with 4.0 rebounds. Williams is shooting 42.8% from deep but, just as last season, it is on low volume. He’s also not showing much as a playmaker as many had hoped.

Derrick Jones Jr. Draws Start

Jones Jr. recently spoke with the media about his decision to come back to the Bulls for a second season. He had been acquired the offseason before in a three-team trade that sent Lauri Markkanen to the rival Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Once me and coach had a conversation on the phone it was a no-brainer,” Jones said following a recent practice. “I was coming back regardless because I felt like we left a lot on the table last year and I just wanted to come back and see if we can have another run at it.”

Jones fought his way back from a fractured finger that was supposed to keep him out for six to eight weeks.

He returned after just over four weeks to try and help the team close out the season.

In this game, he had six points two rebounds, and one block in a little over 18 minutes of action finishing with a plus-eight plus-minus.

That is a modest stat line. But Jones was also part of the Bulls’ energetic closing lineup that also featured Green along with Ayo Dosunmu, rookie Dalen Terry, and Coby White.

As NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson explained, Green’s lack of time in the first half was not quite the indictment it may have seemed to be.

Johnson also said that Williams starting spot is “very much” in jeopardy.

Donovan had said after the win over Denver that he was simply using the preseason to experiment.

“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.”

He may have found an exciting new one.

Javonte Green Elicits Extended Look

Jones rejoined the group with Green already on the floor with six-plus minutes on the clock and a six-point advantage. They would go on to stretch that lead into the 17-point final margin of victory for a 2-1 preseason record.

Despite the stellar effort, not just against the Nuggets, but this entire preseason, Green did not see the floor in the first half of this game.

That does not mean he was not among the most impactful performers in this contest.

Green finished second on the team with 17 points in 15 minutes on 87.5% shooting while connecting on 2-of-3 triples. He also had five rebounds an assist and a steal in addition to his signature highlight reel material.

“Javonte Green making his case to be in the Opening Night starting line-up,” tweeted Mark Schanowski of the “Gimme The Hot Sauce” podcast, “sparking the Bulls’ turnaround in the 2nd half against the Raptors. Plus, another sub-par game for Patrick Williams.”

Green outperformed Jones but the bigger story is indeed Williams.