Bulls Coach Ignites a Starting Lineup Controversy

It might be only the preseason, but all the bluster in the Windy City this weekend is over the fact that Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan relegated power forward Patrick Williams to the bench unit for Friday night's game, giving the start instead to Javonte Green. 

“When you put Javonte out there, you know what you’re going to get,” Donovan said. And the fact that Williams was the No. 4 overall pick in 2020 doesn't impress the coach at this point. 

“Look, I get it in terms of where he was drafted, where he was picked," said Donovan. "But that’s just not who Patrick Williams is (in ever being preoccupied by that fact/stature). For us, we’ve got to make decisions that are going to be best for our team."

And yet, at the same time, Donovan downplayed the move, saying he's "just trying to look at different combinations of guys."

As for Williams, he seems fine with it, saying he's practiced with both the starting and second units.  

"When he told me, I was all for it. I really think Javonte is a really good player. He plays with a lot of energy. And I kind of saw where he was coming from in terms of him being able to bring energy to that first group, and I think it worked. I mean, we won. 

“My job is to be productive. My job is to go out there and use my talents and help the team win. I think that’s everybody’s job. It’s not up to me when or where my name gets called. My (job) is to just be ready whenever my name is called.”

As it turns out, Williams did get some minutes with the starters at various times during the game. But according to Darnell Mayberry in The Athletic, the move—preseason or not—sends a message:

"The goal for every team is to maximize every minute. It’s impossible to then ignore the first four to six minutes of each first and third quarter. For those eight to 12 minutes each night," writes Mayberry, "Donovan is sending a clear message: Green is better."

Green started 45 games last season, largely due to the fact that Williams missed all but 17 games with torn wrist ligaments. Green averaged 7.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 23 minutes per night. Williams, in his short season sample, averaged 9 points and 4.1 rebounds. 

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