3 takeaways from the first week of Chicago Bulls training camp
Somehow the month of October is upon us, which means NBA preseason is also here–specifically October 5 for Chicago Bulls fans.
And what comes before preseason? Training camp.
The newly revamped Bulls held their Media Day on September 27 and quickly began scrimmaging thereafter. While headliner Zach LaVine was simply getting back to it, the rest of the roster tried to get acclimated to their teammates, roles and/or surroundings.
With all that being said, here are three takeaways from the Bulls’ first week of training camp.
3. Patrick Williams’ Return
Although the majority of things coming out of the Bulls camp lately have been positive and exciting, the organization did also recently announce that Patrick Williams suffered an ankle injury last September 15. The team said it has a recovery time of somewhere between four and six weeks.
The good news, however, is that Williams seems to be progressing nicely so far.
Donovan: "We feel pretty good about the way he's progressing… I guess that's what happens when you're 20 years old, you heal pretty quickly." Shouted out medical staff for keeping swelling down and Williams for being diligent about treatment. No new info on timeline though. https://t.co/1zybVUblWB
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) September 30, 2021
With a strong medical outlook currently on the table, the question becomes what the team and fans can expect out of the 20-year-old this season.
Before the acquisitions of Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, there was certainly plenty of offensive pressure being put on the young fella, with Chicago really only having LaVine and Nikola Vucevic as consistent scoring options. But now that he will not be relied upon as heavily on offense, Williams should focus on being more assertive and dominant overall. As a shooter, he could certainly use a bit more confidence, but the Bulls are undoubtedly also looking for him to better hold his ground defensively.
Last year, the No. 4 overall pick averaged 9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists a game, while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from three.
2. Coby White’s Role With The Bulls
While fans are understandably most excited about their new point guard in Lozno Ball, Coby White should absolutely not be counted out when it comes to helping the team make their 2021-22 campaign a successful one.
Stepping into his third year in the league, the 21-year-old will be coming off the bench to back Ball up and play floor general to the second unit.
White, who is averaging 14.2 points on 40.6 percent shooting (including 35.7 percent from three), 3.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest so far in his career, has already shown great potential in Chicago and is only looking to further develop his game. In fact, his drive has perhaps only grown stronger after having torn his labrum during the offseason.
“He’s got an internal will and an internal drive. I think that’s his greatest strength mentally,” head coach Billy Donovan said of White, per NBC Sports. “The way he can handle those kinds of situations — and I imagine for him there was probably some really tough days because they are long days — but he really stayed with it.”
The No. 7 overall pick is expected to be back in mid-November with his recovery seemingly going well, as White recently explained he is now able to do “pretty much everything” while still working on “strengthening” his shoulder. However, his role with the Bulls will certainly be different.
For one, baring Ball being out, he will no longer be starting games–which is certainly something he got accustomed to doing last season (White started 54 out of the 69 matchups he appeared in). He will also likely be expected to not just score at a higher volume, but dish it out more as well. With a handful of new, very capable bodies on the team, solid ball distribution will be a priority.
1. Alex Caruso’s Defense
The Bulls did a lot of great things this summer, but one move that has flown somewhat under the radar is the signing of Alex Caruso. The undrafted point guard quickly became a fan favorite during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers and there is an argument to be made that the same will soon happen in Chicago.
Between his work-ethic, determination and team mentality, both the organization and its fans have a lot to be hyped over.
And Donovan already knows it.
“I love the fact that he’s a verbal player,” Donovan said, per the Chicago Sun Times. “He’s always talking, trying to get guys in the right spot and communicating on both ends of the floor. A guy that I think does a lot of little things, brings a lot of toughness to the table.”
The Texas-native is definitely both intentional and aggressive on offense, but it is his defense that shined through in training camp.
“When I was on two-way (contract), fighting for a spot and a little bit that first year trying to earn my role in LA, I had a limited role on offense. I was more of a spacer, screener, ball-mover. But I knew I was out there to play defense, and I knew that got me playing time,” Caruso shared, per NBC Sports. “I was just trying to get on the court and did what I could to get out there, and a lot of that was the defensive side of the ball. And the more reps you get the better you get at it, and I’ve been doing that for a couple years now.”
Ready or not, here comes the Bulls’ preseason.