Patrick Williams could return from his ankle injury sooner than anticipated from his original four-to-six-week timeline.
Williams could suit up for the Bulls’ final preseason matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, Oct. 15, according to reports.
Williams said his ankle feels “good” and that he’s “very hopeful” and “confident” that he can play in the final preseason game.
Williams reportedly practiced in full five-on-five drills on Monday. The contention behind his status is the team will see how his body responded to Tuesday (the team’s day off) and the rest of the week before making the call.
Now, with one day to go before Friday’s game, a decision on Williams should accordingly be made very soon. However, the logic behind Williams’s status is that he should be ready to go for the regular season, even if he doesn’t play against the Grizzlies on Friday.
Asked how hopeful he is to play in Friday’s preseason finale, Bulls forward Patrick Williams said, “I’m very hopeful. I’m very confident as well.”
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) October 13, 2021
Patrick Williams participated in Bulls practice today. Got up and down in 5-on-5, Billy Donovan said. Now need to see how he responds throughout week before making call on availability Friday vs. Memphis.
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) October 11, 2021
Williams’s initial injury status was not in favor of him making a speedy return.
Williams’s ankle injury was reported first on Sept. 24 and diagnosed with a four-to-six-week timeline for recovery.
Back then, that would have left him right on the mark for returning for the first game of the season — against the Pistons on Oct. 20 — nearly dead on four weeks from his injury.
Six weeks would leave him missing four to five regular-season games. At the end of the day, he wouldn’t be missing a ton of game time and his recovery is nonetheless impressive.
The damage to the injury is that Williams isn’t able to get in quality reps with the new guys — DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, etc.
Let’s just hope he can get a game in the preseason with the starters before having the real deal on Oct. 20.
Williams is a huge piece of the Bulls’ puzzle of success.
Williams is anticipated to be a large factor in the Bulls’ success this year.
Last season, Williams was the youngest player in the NBA at 19 years, and some change. Yet, he proved to be a capable defender with NBA all-defense on his radar for the future; he also is advancing his scoring abilities and his defensive rebounding skills too.
Williams averaged 9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game in his first season. His stats defensively won’t show you much — 0.0 defensive box plus/minus and 112 defensive rating — but he was the Bulls’ best defender last season.
While Williams’s role was positioned as the team’s starting small forward last season, he is set up to be a stretch-four this season. With the additions of DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball to the starting lineup, the Bulls will need Williams’s size in the paint.
“So this may be a situation where Patrick can be on a power forward, small forward and point guard in one possession,” head coach Billy Donovan said in an interview with K.C. Johnson. “He’s going to have to guard multiple positions for us. He’s got to make a jump there.”
What does that mean for Williams?
It means defense is going to be a larger emphasis on his game. Defense, and improved stamina and conditioning — as noted by head coach Billy Donovan during Bulls’ media day — to prepare him for the Bulls’ full-court offense.
On a side note, it seems Williams is doing well in that area, even with the incapacity of his injury. He is biking and using an anti-gravity treadmill to help him improve cardiovascular fitness.
We’ll see how Donovan fits Williams into the starting lineup and what his role truly becomes. Hopefully, Bulls fans can see what that could look like on Friday.