Williams, White look like future Bulls stars in preseason loss to Nuggets

Coby White, Andre Drummond, Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
Coby White, Andre Drummond, Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports) /

Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan hinted on Saturday that if there was going to be a preseason game in which the starters sat out, it would be last night’s. The warning was appreciated by fans interested in tuning in, because the Bulls’ star trio of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic would indeed be deactivated for Sunday night’s contest in Denver against the Nuggets.

Undermanned and up against a two-time MVP, I don’t think anyone should fault the Bulls for losing a 116-102 game that felt much closer than the final score indicates. Although the Bulls didn’t emerge with a win, I don’t think anyone’s beating themselves up over it today. That’s because Patrick Williams and Coby White looked phenomenal last night, even without the rest of their supporting cast in the starting lineup around to assist.

Patrick Williams and Coby White led the way for the Bulls last night, showcasing their potential as future stars.

Patrick Williams took full advantage of the other starters resting by showing just what he’s capable of accomplishing when given a larger offensive load. Pat led the Bulls in field goal attempts and tied for most points scored, contributing 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field and an excellent 3-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc. He looked much more like the aggressive player Chicago has been waiting for him to become for so very long.

What really surprised me the most was Williams’ fluidity out there on the court, scoring from all areas with a sweet shooting stroke and aggressiveness attacking the rim that we hadn’t seen from him before. Check out his Michael Jordan-esque turnaround fadeaway he hit in the second quarter here.

His first quarter was particularly strong, as Pat poured on 10 points early by not hesitating to pull up for open threes and attacking Nikola Jokic down low in the paint,

Coby White also had himself another terrific preseason performance, matching Pat’s 20 points and doing it on just 11 shots in 22 minutes. Ayo Dosunmu was allowed to run point for most of the game, but Coby still managed to dish out 3 assists without committing a single turnover.

It’s becoming increasingly evident that the Bulls intend to run Coby out as the starter to begin next season, and he has his incredible play in the preseason and training camp to thank for that. It will be interesting to see how Chicago manages the hierarchy of their four great scoring threats in the starting lineup, but all things considered, this is a great problem to have.

At this point, we already know what to expect from DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic. The Bulls’ chances this season will rely on a few key x-factors, the most notable of which are Coby and Pat. If this young duo can step up and make good on their potential, the Bulls might just be the Eastern Conference’s dark horse who no one saw coming.

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