I remember looking at the presents underneath the tree one day, thinking today is the day. I was just one present away from all my troubles disappearing. One present away from years of enjoyment. One present away from a … GAMECUBE!!
I ripped open each present handed to me. Cool, but no. Nope. Nah. Where is it!? AHHH! Then came the last gift. Through the wrapping alone, I could tell it was not my prized possession, but I still had hope. Maybe the box held a key to a safe, and inside that safe sat my beautiful, brand new GameCube. How sweet of my parents to keep it safe.
Welp, the final gift was much more unexpected and hurtful than that. Instead of a GameCube in my hands, I held a GameCube game. Yes, that’s right. My parents said it came from my grandparents, and they must have assumed I already had that new-fangled tv game thingy that was all the rage. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream.
To an extent, this is how I imagine Bulls fans felt when the name Patrick Williams came across their TV screen on November 18th. For months, they waited for the organization to use their highest pick since 2008 on a shiny new toy. They expected they were one selection away from all their troubles disappearing. One selection away from years of enjoyment. One selection away from … who the hell is this kid!?
Bulls fans thought they were getting the console, but instead, they got the game. They wanted LaMelo Ball or Tyrese Haliburton or even Anthony Edwards. Williams might have been a high-upside talent, but he didn’t feel like the main attraction! Well, patience is a virtue, my friends. After briefly sulking, my actual last present appeared. Turns out I did get a GameCube, and while it may have taken Bulls fans a little longer to realize it, they, too, got what they wanted on draft night.
Since the moment preseason tipped-off, Williams has looked worthy of the No. 4 overall pick in the draft. While his current stat line might not blow anyone away – 10 points (47.1 FG%, 47.1 3PT%), 3.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game over nine games – Williams has arguably looked like one of the most comfortable rookies on the court this season. Even more impressive, he was the youngest of the NCAA prospects in the 2020 draft, and he fought his way into the Bulls starting lineup without a traditional NBA offseason to hone his craft.
The 19-year-old is now one of the most exciting parts about this revamped Bulls roster, and he already feels like a legitimate building block for this new front office. I know we can not, and should not, assume too much after only nine games of true big-league play, but the signs of a high-profile talent are there for Williams, and he has already garnered some national attention because of that.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe threw Williams into his more recent “Ten NBA Things I Like and Don’t Like … ” column. He praised the No. 4-overall pick’s “silky, old-school mid-range pull-up” and credited him for his NBA-ready defensive play. Lowe rightfully pointed out Williams’ need to balance-out his versatile skill set but wrote that it’s encouraging to see he can already “read and think the game.” Lowe’s best line of all, though, was his last: “He looks like a keeper, with a floor as a very good role player. The ceiling? I’m intrigued.”
Then, ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz threw his own positive comments into the ring, including Williams in his “NBA Rookies Surprises: Breakout skills and standout prospects” post shared on Friday.
Patrick Williams is on the Kawhi Leonard rookie development plan — fly around defensively and in transition, play to your strengths in the midrange and knock down open corner 3s. So far so good for the No. 4 overall pick, who is posting an 83.3% eFG on nine corner 3s with a 44.0% eFG on 2.78 mid-range pull-ups per game, according to Second Spectrum data.
The key will be for Williams to continue building his game out and speed up his release from 3, but at 6-foot-8, 230 pounds with huge hands, long arms and great footwork, the 19-year-old’s glimpses are impressive.
The Kawhi Leonard comparisons for Williams have crept up more and more since draft night, but I do my best to avoid such huge claims. With that said, it is certainly nice to hear someone like Schmitz include Williams and Leonard in the same sentence. To know he is impressed with what the rookie has shown thus far and can see even slight comparisons in their game should give all of us a reason to be optimistic.
Again, I know we are not even halfway through Williams’ first year in the league, so expectations should stay tempered. At the same time, to know some big basketball brains are impressed with him this early is all sorts of fun.