The impact of Williams’ injury on his future and that of the Bulls originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

There is a human element to injuries, and let’s face it first.

After appearing in 71 of 72 games in a promising rookie season, Patrick Williams missed almost all of training camp with a severe ankle sprain and will now miss four to six months after suffering a wrist surgery to repair torn ligaments suffered Thursday night.

“He worked a lot this summer. He really worked on his game and his body and arrived really motivated. It’s hard to miss an important time, especially for a young player. You want to establish yourself in this league, ”said Nikola Vučević. “To have that taken away from you is very difficult to deal with. We will be there to support him and stay with him. Obviously he’s an integral part of this team and the future of this team.

And that’s the other part of injuries – the future. What are the Chicago Bulls going to do now that their starting power for an already undersized team is exhausted? And what impact will that have on Williams going forward?

Bend over in a small ball

The Bulls face Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside when they play Utah Jazz at United Center on Saturday. Next week, two clashes with Joel Embiid are looming. So it’s certainly possible that Tony Bradley is on the verge of re-entering the rotation anyway.

But in the long run, Billy Donovan certainly looked like a coach willing to keep trying to wreak defensive havoc with a smaller roster. The safe bet would be for Javonte Green to reclaim the place of the starting forward he held during the preseason when Williams sat down with his sprained ankle.

Beyond that, Derrick Jones Jr. might stand a chance. But Donovan has also used four-guard rosters in which DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball or Alex Caruso nominally play forward.

“It’s going to be a challenge; there is no doubt about it, ”said Donovan. “We are a little smaller at this position. And we played smaller there.

“And really to be honest, outside of Javonte and Patrick the next guy in the job is either Lonzo or Alex, which I chose to do and I love when these guys are out there and they’re tough and they have behaved well. We were injured while bouncing. “

Indeed, the opponents have overtaken the Bulls in the last three games, two with significant margins.

Donovan believed Ball was holding on in post-game clashes with New York Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle. And much of the Bulls ‘4-0 start came from the Bulls’ perimeter-focused defensive attack, feasting on steals and transition opportunities.

So at least in the short term, or until management reviews their trading options, expect more small balls. Remember, the Bulls have a $ 5 million trade exception from the Daniel Theis signing-and-trade deal and is 15th on the roster inherited by a player they can leave Matt Thomas with.

Williams’ future

From a micro point of view, Donovan regretted his second-year striker’s injury because Williams had just shown a five-minute streak in which he put in all the determination that coaches and teammates were clamoring for over. regularly since the end. season.

In the middle of the second quarter, he attacked the rim, but his shot was blocked by Taj Gibson. He hit two pull-up jumpers sandwiched around an impressive defensive rebound. Then, at the start of the third, he tried to dunk loudly on a Mitchell Robinson contest, which turned into a glaring foul.

“He would start doing things physically that we would talk to him about, ‘When you have these angles and these hallways, be aggressive,’” Donovan said. “He’s such a selfless guy he was trying to figure out how to play against other guys. When am I leaving? When should I stop by? When should I reverse it? When do I stay aggressive? (Thursday) was a game where he did.

From a macro point of view, this injury deprives Williams of another “normal season” of progress. Due to the pandemic, he did not have a Summer League in his rookie year or a regular training camp.

Then, after a great summer in which he not only played an important role in the Summer League but trained with the US Select team against the Olympic team, he missed almost all of training camp with his ankle injury. And now this.

That’s a lot for a player who represents the regime’s first acquisition of that leadership as the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. At Williams, management sees an elite physical athlete who can emerge as a double force. meaning for years to come.

It can still happen. But his career path has once again taken an important detour.

“When you lose a guy like that who can physically hold a lot of different positions and who has the strength and size to deal with post-up players, it really hurts,” Donovan said.

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