Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams will return Monday night against the Toronto Raptors to play in his first game since having wrist surgery in October, the team said Sunday.
Williams, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, has not played since Oct. 28, when he tore ligaments in his left wrist during the fifth game of the season.
Although he began the season in the starting lineup, Williams is expected to return in a reserve role with a minutes restriction.
“He’s anxious to get back,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said Friday. “Physically, he feels good. He knows the timing part is going to take a little bit of time. But I think just how he feels and where he’s at mentally, he wants to come back and play.”
Williams, 20, had a promising rookie season as one of the youngest players in his draft class, but his second season didn’t get off to much of a start. He averaged 6.6 points on 56.5% shooting and 2.2 rebounds in five games before he tore his wrist ligaments falling on a flagrant foul by the New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson.
While the Bulls were on a three-game West Coast road trip this past week, Williams remained in Chicago to practice with the Windy City Bulls, the team’s G League affiliate. Donovan said reports have been encouraging about Williams’ conditioning but that his timing was off after being sidelined for five months.
The Bulls are on a back-to-back Monday and Tuesday, and Donovan said it was possible that Williams could play in both games.
Williams’ return comes as the Bulls are on a three-game losing streak and have dropped eight of their past 10 games. They began Sunday fifth in the Eastern Conference.
“He makes our team better,” Donovan told reporters. “There’ll probably be some growing pains of him finding a rhythm. With Patrick, the biggest thing is going to be how he fits into a rotation and what a realistic number of minutes look like for him.”