NBA Denies the Bulls, Derrick Jones Jr. Questionable, Ayo's Improvement, and Other Bulls Bullets

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NBA Denies the Bulls, Derrick Jones Jr. Questionable, Ayo’s Improvement, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Chicago lost a great reporter on Tuesday.

If you have the means, consider donating to the fund below or buying an Obvious Shirt. RIP, Jeff.

•   Not cool, NBA. Not cool. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the league office has officially denied the Chicago Bulls’ request for a Disabled Player Exception for Patrick Williams. If the NBA had approved the request, the Bulls would have received some extra spending power to make up for the extended absence of Williams. Adam Silver must have taken one quick look at the Bulls and thought, “naw, you guys are too stacked.”

•   As annoying as the league’s denial is, it reminds us of Williams’ exact situation. Chicago would have likely received some kind of added compensation if it was certain the second-year forward would miss the entirety of the season. However, by refusing to do business with the Bulls, the NBA is telling us they feel somewhat confident in a Williams return by the end of the season. To be clear, this isn’t new information. Williams’ injury was said to have a 4-6 month recovery timeline. The front-end of that estimate would put him on the court come late February for the final stretch of the regular season. Meanwhile, the backend would only have him on the floor if the Bulls were able to make the playoffs. With Chicago sitting 2nd in the Eastern Conference, regardless of which end Williams finds himself closer to, there seems to be a big door open for his return to action this season. And the NBA is just reminding us of that with this latest news.

•   Derrick Jones Jr.’s return from a hamstring tweak is on the horizon. The team upgraded him to QUESTIONABLE ahead of tonight’s game with the Atlanta Hawks. Jones has been easily one of the team’s best reserves this season, providing a lengthy frontcourt presence this team has desperately needed. His switchable defense combined with his shot-blocking ability has made him reliable on one end, while his work as a roll-man and small-ball five has been a revelation on the other. The Bulls are simply better when they have him in the rotation, and the absence of additional frontcourt help like Alfonzo McKinnie and Tony Bradley only makes his availability that much more important.

•   Also on the health front:

•   Despite back-to-back wins, the absence of Lonzo Ball has been felt. The Indiana Pacers, who the Bulls will face again on Friday, dominated in the paint 62-44. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks were able to drain 15 shots from downtown on Monday night, seven of which came in the second half to keep them within striking distance. While both teams are naturally strong in those respective categories, it’s hard not to think Ball’s activity on the defensive end could have cleaned things up. Not to mention, the Bulls have forced just 10 turnovers in each of their past two games, a mark that is down from their average of 14.8 forced TOVs per game.

•   Alex Caruso – deservingly – eats up most of the pocket-picking praise. But I think we need to remember Ball has also been one of the best this season. He currently ranks 9th in total steals, averaging 1.8 a night. If this holds, it would be a career-high for Ball. Fun Fact: Ball is also averaging 1.0 blocks per game, putting him behind just Draymond Green and Matisse Thybulle for the most from a player who stands 6’7″ or shorter.

•   DeRozan knows how important the Bulls point guard is:

•   The Hawks will get some help back tonight in the form of Wes Iwundu, who exited protocols this morning.

•   Good news to hear. Bulls play Wizards on New Year’s Day.

•   The clip shared below of Ayo Dosunmu excites me. From the moment the rookie has stepped on the floor, he has provided the defensive energy we’d want to see. But what clearly lagged was an ability to read the floor on the other end. One of the best scorers in the country during his final season at Illinois, Dosunmu was known for toying with defenders in the midrange and dynamically finding his way to the rim. Doing that against NBA size and quickness is a whole different ballgame, and there is no surprise that it’s taken the rookie some time to find success again off the bounce. The two clips shown below are simple but encouraging. As a player who isn’t going to blow by you with his athleticism in the halfcourt, using his IQ to find the holes in the defense and choose the right time to attack is important.

•   #BullsLegend

•   As always, great words from Lu this morning.



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.