The Chicago Bulls have been dealing with a ton of injury issues this season. Zach LaVine, in particular, has missed a ton of time, but a lot of other players up and down the roster have been absent for some games throughout the season. Among them has been Patrick Williams, who is dealing with a foot issue and hasn’t played since January 25.
In Chicago’s recent game against the Portland Trail Blazers, rookie forward Julian Phillips stepped up, earning some big minutes off the bench with Williams absent from the lineup. The result? His best game of the season so far.
“The whole locker room loves him because when you have his energy, it becomes contagious,” Dosunmu said.
Phillips finished the game with a career-high 11 points to go along with two rebounds, one assist, and one block while shooting 4-of-7 from the field and 1-of-3 from distance.
Head coach Billy Donovan also had some words to say about Phillips after the contest.
“I don’t mean this critically of him, but he plays in a very small box. He does the things he knows he can do,” Donovan said. “He’s a really good cutter. He’s really good athletically on the glass. He’s obviously a terrific athlete. I think the thing I’ve been most impressed with from summer league to now has been his ability to pick things up very quickly. He has a very high IQ. He instinctively knows when to cut. He finds his way into plays. He’s a very conscientious decision-maker. I don’t look at him as a high-mistake player.”
Alex Caruso even called him a “sponge.”
“He’s pretty stoic in general,” said Caruso. “He’s trying to be a sponge, trying to learn. He’s doing a good job of taking everything in stride. He knows the game and does little stuff within the game to try to help us win.”
Phillips’ opportunities may not come often, but he took advantage of the one he got against Portland.