Williams returns to Bulls practice, hoping to catch up quickly

  • Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams, left, works against Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, March 11, 2021.

    Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams, left, works against Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, March 11, 2021.

  • Bulls forward Patrick Williams was at practice Wednesday and could be ready for the season opener next week in Detroit.

    Bulls forward Patrick Williams was at practice Wednesday and could be ready for the season opener next week in Detroit. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/13/2021 8:48 PM

Patrick Williams officially joined training camp Wednesday.

Better late than never.

 

Bulls coach Billy Donovan said he was concerned when Williams sprained his left ankle Sept. 15, he'd be out longer. But at least now, Williams is on pace to play in the season opener next Wednesday at Detroit.

"The medical staff deserves a lot of credit," Donovan said. "I think Patrick deserves a lot of credit. They put a lot of time and effort into it over the past few weeks.

"If responds well, he'll practice again on Thursday. And if he responds well, we feel pretty optimistic that he'd be able to participate in the last preseason game (Friday). A lot is going to depend on how his ankle is responding."

Obviously, the Bulls went through some heavy roster turnover this summer. So not having one of the projected starters on the floor during training camp is a concern. The Bulls have used 6-foot-4 guard Javonte Green as Williams' replacement during preseason.

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Sharing the court with the new lineup figures to be an adjustment for Williams, who is hoping to make a significant step forward in his second season.

"We're playing fast," Williams said. "We have a lot of guys who can score the ball, so there's going to be a lot of kick-out opportunities for me, just catch and shoot opportunities. They're doing the hard part, honestly. So when I get the ball, it's either on close out or I'm wide open. So playing with guys like this, it makes the game super easy for me and hopefully I can make it easier for them as well."

Williams started making the transition from small forward to power forward last season, so that won't be new for him. He probably will have to get used to guarding taller players, since the Bulls have a wider variety of potential wing defenders in Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso.

But there are also more scorers on the floor. So if the Bulls want Williams to evolve offensively, he may have to do more than stand at the 3-point line and wait for the kick-out passes.

"Whatever it takes to win I'm good with it," Williams said. "Every game, every situation is different. It's going to take certain guys to step up and certain guys to play a role. I'm fine with either one. Winning is the main objective. As long as we win, everything is taken care of, everybody is happy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Whether it's being that scorer, playing defense or being that role guy, I take pride in being able to do anything on the court. A lot of guys say they want to win, but when it comes time to actually sacrifice or either step up and do things to win, they take a step back. But I'm one of those guys that for sure likes to win."

Williams has experience fitting into whatever role is needed since during his lone season at Florida State he didn't start a single game, then was chosen No. 4 in the draft.

Backup center Tony Bradley also returned to practice Wednesday after missing the first three preseason games with a back injury. He said he expects to play Friday when the Bulls host Memphis in the preseason finale.

Asked about Coby White's progress, Donovan said it would likely be another month before they decide whether to clear White for full-contact basketball activities. The third-year guard had surgery on his left shoulder in June.

• Toni Kukoc was a visitor to Wednesday's practice and was seen holding conversations with LaVine and Nikola Vucevic afterward.

@McGrawDHSports

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