Help requested outside the Lawyer Center could be very temporary.
That’s why Bulls coach Billy Donovan isn’t going to think too much about the vacancy left in the striker post following Patrick Williams’ left ankle injury.
Derrick Jones Jr., Alize Johnson and Stanley Johnson are each running for the job for perhaps the next few weeks, but when it comes to picking the player based on their individual skills, Donovan doesn’t see it that way.
Rather, it’s a question of which of the three candidates helps the group to function at a higher level.
“I don’t know if I would necessarily consider him a defensive spirit [player] or offensive, ”Donovan said, when asked what he wanted there in Williams’ absence. “I think the most important thing is how well someone in that place – if Patrick is away for a while – how well does the band work together? How do they work in defense, how do they work in attack? Because you can tell we want to have a guy who’s a defensive stopper, but all of a sudden that might not be a good choice when it comes to offensive spacing, right?
“They’re all going to have to learn to play, so I think the player you’re talking about has to be good on both sides.”
Which means Jones and Alize Johnson could get the first nod when the Bulls host the Cleveland Cavaliers in Tuesday’s preseason opener.
Jones is a solid defender and a wing who can really run on the ground and run over the rim, while Alize Johnson impressed Donovan with an “incredible engine”.
“High energy,” Donovan said of Alize Johnson. “He’s going to rebound offensive. He’s always in the middle of something. If there’s a loose ball, if there’s a scrum, if a ball goes up, he’s still involved. ”
The good news is that Williams is training on the pitch and testing the ankle more and more, but still has to test it sideways. Even when he gets the green light to resume full activity, the Bulls lack depth up front, so Jones and Alize Johnson need to play well whether they start or not.
“I think we have a great group of guys in position,” said Alize Johnson of the idea that the attacking point is lacking in depth. “Any of us can play there. “
Rookie – and former Morgan Park star – Ayo Dosunmu, according to Donovan, will get minutes at both guard posts once the exhibition games begin. The key to Dosunmu learning the point? Continue to ask vets questions.
Dosunmu has leaned on people like Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, but he also needs to experience minutes himself to find the awareness that this position demands.
“He’s a really aggressive player,” Donovan said of the Illinois star. “I think that’s probably the hardest thing in the NBA to be a point guard, you have to be able to read and handle what’s going on. Like it’s okay to be aggressive, but if Zach LaVine has made three threes in a row, you need to be aware of that. If “Vooch” just scored two or three points, you should be aware of it.
“He’s just got that mind, he’s just in attack mode, which I love, but he’s going to learn some of those other things.”