After going nine months without Bulls basketball, I thought a four-day layoff would feel like nothing. Nope. I was wrong. I need me some Zach and Coby.
• The Oklahoma City Thunder are a familiar foe. Not only did the Chicago Bulls play this team twice during the preseason, but they are also led by the organization’s former head coach. While players have been moved around since Billy Donovan’s departure, several of their key rotation players are still products of the Donovan Development Plan. Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley, Hamidou Diallo, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander all clock big minutes for this rebuilding Thunder team, and all know how to give teams fits in their own special way. Dort is an in-your-face defender with an improving 3-point stroke (44.4 percent so far this season). Bazley is a versatile forward who crashes the glass well. Diallo is an athletic freak with great length who teams opposing defenses must keep an eye on. And Gilgeous-Alexander, their leader, is a skillful ball-handler and acrobatic finisher who is on his way toward stardom.
• In other words, don’t underestimate this Thunder team. The depth might be an issue, but they are about as scrappy as a team can get. They have kept things close against a solid Jazz team and managed to pick up the W over an impressive 129-116 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Now, with that said, if the Bulls offense can keep up the high-efficiency play we’ve seen over the past few games, they should have a very good chance at grabbing their 5th win of the season. The Thunder simply do not have the firepower to counterbalance this Bulls offense when it is at its peak. The Bulls are 5th in points per game compared to the Thunder’s 28th. Not to mention, since January 5th (when the Bulls starter their four-game Western Conference road trip), the Bulls have played with the 2nd best effective field goal percentage in the NBA. Good stuff.
• Hi. I’d like to place an order for some Patrick Williams buckets with a side of dope blocks. Oh, and can you give me the hot sauce for my friend Stacey? The Bulls rookie is coming off one hell of a road trip. While his cumulative stats may not jump off the page, he did guard LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard in back-to-back games, drawing praise for his NBA-ready play from both superstars. In the Bulls last game against the Clippers, though, he did manage to have his best offensive performance yet. Williams scored a career-high 17 points, knocking down three 3’s and shooting an impressive 6-9 from the field. The question now is whether or not Williams can keep up the offensive aggressiveness or if we will see him defer with Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter back on the floor. I want to see this team run some more offense through the 19-year-old, especially considering how good he has been at getting to his spots, but I also understand the Bulls have quite a few months to feed on that end of the floor.
“I definitely see the potential I have to be a player like (Kawhi)… I talk a lot about being a two-way player and he’s the model of a great two-way player.” -Patrick Williams
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 15, 2021
• NBA.com released their first Rookie Ladder, and Patrick Williams sits right behind Anthony Edwards at No. 5. Honestly, I think we will see him move up as the season goes on. How much further is a good question, but I can’t help but think there will be a stretch this season where Williams really finds his stride at both ends. I mean, factor in his already solid defense with his efficient shooting numbers, and he’s basically been teasing us with the possibility already. See?
Patrick Williams shooting stats:
Restricted area: 12-19 (63.2%)
Paint, non restricted area: 7-20 (35%)
Midrange 12-26 (46.2%)
Corner 3s 7-12 (58.3%)
Above break 3s 4-12 (33.3%)
More on Williams' shots, and that arc on his jumper, here: https://t.co/2zOkWvfw9h
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 15, 2021
• Shaq put Harden on serious blast last night, and I could not agree more.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 15, 2021
• He dunked this …
come on pic.twitter.com/GxfQ7EybLR
— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) January 15, 2021
• Can Kyrie avoid any more fines this season? Stay tuned!
The NBA has fined the Nets' Kyrie Irving $50,000 for violating the league's health and safety protocols and assigned him a five-day quarantine
He will forfeit more than $400,000 in salary per game for those missed during quarantine at a rate of 1/81.6 of his season salary pic.twitter.com/oaj4u0dWHm
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 15, 2021