Torrey Craig has arrived in the Windy City! The veteran signed a two-year deal with a player option with Chicago in the offseason, shaking up the rotation. Will Patrick Williams stay in the starting lineup, or will Head Coach Billy Donovan send Williams to lead the second unit while Craig reinforces the starters?
Last season, the Bulls used Patrick Williams as the starting Power Forward in most games. Other times, DeMar DeRozan would move to the four-spot and three guards would start. Alex Caruso even spent some time there. Now, with Chicago signing Torrey Craig, expect a rotational shake-up.
Torrey Craig Breakdown
The 32-year-old Craig comes to Chicago with defense as the strongest tool in his arsenal. Craig had a career-high 2.5 Defensive Win Shares last season with Phoenix. He is a versatile defender who has been key to stopping opposing stars in his past roles. Offensively, he does not get high usage but became a better shooter last season. Craig shot 39.5% from three-point range and averaged career-highs in minutes per game (24.7) and points per game (7.4).
Craig’s fit in the Bulls’ lineup comes at the forward position as a versatile defender and low-usage shot-maker. If he starts, it would be at the four-spot between DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic. He brings length like Williams and would anchor the defense in an offense-heavy starting lineup. If Craig can shoot like he did last season, he will also reinforce Chicago’s three-point shooting. The Bulls ranked last in three-point attempts last season and could use more efficiency there. Craig’s experience beats Williams, but the primary reason for Craig starting would be to give Williams the reigns to the second unit.
Patrick Williams Breakdown
Entering his fourth year in the NBA, Williams has grown from raw prospect to stable contributor. He has yet to take the next step to consistent starter/star status, and he needs the opportunity to develop into that. Starting 65 of his 82 games last season, Williams saw a 15.7% Usage Rate, a clear fourth option among the starters. With the low-usage role, Williams averaged 10.2 points per game and shot 41.5% from three, good for best on the team.
Williams is essentially a younger Craig with more offensive upside. Keeping him in the starting lineup would ensure high-pressure minutes for Williams but would limit his offensive production. Familiarity playing with the other starters could keep him as a starter. On the other hand, the desire to maximize his potential and spread out production could push him to lead the reserves.
Torrey Craig starts, Patrick Williams leads the bench.
Craig’s peak production is similar to the production Williams had a starter last season. Starting him would keep the starting lineup balanced and not have a major decline in performance. Meanwhile, Williams would get major minutes leading the second unit next to Andre Drummond and Chicago’s stable of guards. He would get the chance to reach his offensive ceiling and add to the bench’s performance. There is already a big three commanding offensive touches among the starters, so Williams will get greater opportunity amongst the reserves.
There is a world in which Craig starts next season, but Williams averages more minutes and is in the closing lineup over Craig. It remains to be seen what Billy Donovan likes between the two, but Craig wasn’t added as just depth. He reinforces the forward position for Chicago and will allow for more flexibility for Williams to reach his ceiling. It will be interesting to see Williams and Craig’s role in the Chicago Bulls rotation.