Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams has been recalled from the G League’s Windy City Bulls and will make his return to the court Monday against the Toronto Raptors after a five-month absence. Williams injured his wrist in Chicago’s fifth game of the season, had surgery shortly thereafter and has been sidelined since. Bulls coach Billy Donovan revealed that Williams had been cleared for contact last Wednesday.
Williams is 20 years old and in his second season as a professional, but he was the Bulls’ starting power forward at the beginning of the season. In his absence, Javonte Green has filled in admirably and both DeMar DeRozan and Troy Brown Jr. have spent time at power forward on the second unit. More recently, Derrick Jones Jr. has played the 4 spot in big bench lineups featuring Tristan Thompson in the middle. When Williams returns, Chicago will immediately become a more versatile team and Donovan’s staff will have more options when figuring out the playoff rotation.
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Right now, the Bulls can use all the help they can get. They’ve lost eight of their past 10 games, just got Alex Caruso back from a wrist injury of his own and are still without Lonzo Ball, who has been out since mid-January with a knee injury. Chicago’s defense has fallen all the way to 20th in the league, and its plus-1.0 point differential is 14th, right between Toronto and the Atlanta Hawks, both of whom would be in the Eastern Conference play-in if the season ended today. At 41-29, the Bulls are fifth in the East and only two games ahead of the seventh-seeded Raptors, who are currently slated for the play-in round. That makes Monday’s game between the two teams essential.
As a rookie last season, Williams averaged 9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks in 27.9 minutes, starting in all 71 games he played. He will once again be asked to play a low-usage role, but this time he’ll be on a team that has much higher expectations.