After five games, Patrick Williams has lost his starting spot to Torrey Craig.
The Chicago Bulls’ former No. 4 overall pick has struggled immensely from the moment the ball was tipped on opening night. He’s continued to look out of sorts next to the team’s starters, so much so that Donovan has limited his 4th-quarter minutes to 1 minute or fewer in three of the five games.
Williams has shot a combined 4-20 since opening night, and he only has a total of 13 rebounds on the season. To be clear, it’s not entirely fair to ridicule Williams for his inefficiency to begin the year, as Chicago’s 42.6 field goal percentage is currently the third-worst in the NBA. But Williams simply hasn’t made his presence felt significantly enough on either end of the floor.
We wrote a lot more about why this move was on the horizon in a post from Thursday here …
Conversely, Torrey Craig has lit a spark almost every time he’s entered the game. He’s very much shown an understanding of how to play alongside the team’s primary scorers, consistently cutting hard to the rim, flying in for offensive rebounds, and not hesitating to send shots up from behind the arc. The veteran forward has averaged 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds through his first three games.
Donovan has also played Craig more than Williams in each of the past two contests. With that in mind, tonight’s decision feels even less surprising.
The hope now is that this can push both Williams and the first unit in the right direction. The Bulls lineup of White, LaVine, DeRozan, Williams, and Vucevic has started the year a -16.0, per Cleaning the Glass. Of course, Craig isn’t the kind of player who will find the bottom of the net often, but his ability to generate extra possessions and make timely hustle plays should help this group get out in transition more and (hopefully) find a better offensive rhythm.
As for Williams, if failing to reach an extension this summer wasn’t motivation enough, losing his spot in the starting lineup after one week should be. There is no reason why he shouldn’t play a more assertive game in the second unit, especially when we consider he has that much more room to hunt his shot. Excuses are running out.