Bulls

First-Half Flashes Prove Williams’ Potential

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After the Chicago Bulls selected Patrick Williams 4th overall in last year’s NBA draft, many casual fans questioned the thought process.

Although not starting in any games in his lone season at Florida State, Williams still possessed the tools scouts raved about. At the mid-point of his rookie season, many are finally realizing the potential he brings to the table.

2020 NBA Draft

It was clear early in the draft process that there was a consensus top three of Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball. After these three went off the board, many wondered who would follow.

One name who flew up draft boards in the months leading up to the draft was Patrick Williams. The 6’8 forward showcased above-average athleticism with solid offensive tools in his only season in Tallahassee. Scouts loved Williams’ defensive prowess given his length and ability to guard multiple positions.

Some had questioned Williams’ ability due to him never starting a game at Florida State. While true, it wasn’t due to a lack of talent. FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton runs a deep rotation where starters don’t really matter. In the last three years, ACC Sixth Man of the Year winners have all come from Florida State in Williams, Mfiondu Kabengele. and Scottie Barnes. Williams and Kabengele turned out to be first-round picks, while Barnes will be on his way this summer.

When the Bulls were on the clock, Williams received the call. Though it may have came as a surprise to some, the Bulls’ front office felt Williams’ ceiling was the highest of any player on the board. As the midway point of the season passes, the selection of Patrick Williams appears to be the correct one.

Early Positives

Through 41 games in his rookie season, Williams is averaging 9.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. In 93 three-point attempts, Williams is shooting 38.7%. This ranks him fourth among all eligible rookies shooting as many three-point attempts as Williams.

Williams has also flashed an impressive mid-range game. He never settles for a contested three or forces his way to the basket. Through the use of pull-up jumpers, he is consistently able to get to his spot on the court. Having drawn Kawhi Leonard comparisons pre-draft, Williams shows those similarities on the offensive end. Taking what the defense gives you, while not forcing your game, has been impressive for a rookie to display.

Defensively, Williams has taken on the challenge of guarding opponent’s best wing player. Tools are there for Williams to become among the best wing defenders in the league. A near seven-foot wingspan combined with his athleticism bodes well for the Bulls’ defensive system. Williams ranks third among NBA rookies in total blocks with 31, and ninth in total steals with 29.

Room For Improvement

Though Williams has showed solid play as a rookie, there are still areas of his game that need fine-tuning.

Averaging a mere 1.6 assists per 36 minutes, Williams needs to develop into more of a playmaker with the ball. He can make sharp, quick passes off the dribble, but we haven’t seen the offense run through him. Having the ability to run more of the offense with the ball in his hands only enhances the overall offense of the team.

Billy Donovan has also come out and said Williams needs to be more aggressive. Williams averages 8.0 field-goal attempts per game, which is not enough for the defense to respect you offensively every night. Being more aggressive allows Williams to draw more attention from defenses every night, while opening up the rest of the offense.

Remaining consistent has been a struggle for Williams in his first season in the league. In the last six games, Williams has had scoring totals of 23, two, 10, six, 10 and six points. Though this is not a rare for rookies first coming into the NBA, developing consistency is important to take the next leap.

Future Outlook

Growing pains are going to be there for all rookies in their first seasons, especially when you are one of the youngest players in your class. For Williams to continue taking the next step, it is about gaining more experience with every game.

The season has been full of ups and downs for the Bulls. There has been many bright spots, with a few disappointments along the way. One thing is for certain – Patrick Williams looks to be a core piece for the Bulls’ future.

Follow us on Twitter @BullsLead for the latest Bulls news and insight. 

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About Tim Houlihan

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