Patrick Williams = Special, Gafford's Struggles Continue, Coby Dunk, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Patrick Williams = Special, Gafford’s Struggles Continue, Coby Dunk, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Last night, I asked the girlfriend her final score prediction for the Bulls game. Her response? 120-100 Clippers. Like the idiot and cocky son of a bi*ch I am, I laughed and told her that (1) the Bulls only lost by 3 points in their previous matchup against this game and that (2) Paul George would be on the sideline. I didn’t think the Bulls would win, but it would be closer than that, silly!

Final score: 125-106. I got an evil glare after the game. Great way to start Valentine’s Day Weekend!

•   NBA rookies – especially those who are 19-years-old and selected with the No. 4 pick in the draft – are handed a nice pile of “Evade Criticism Free Cards” when they enter the league. Patrick Williams played one of those cards last night. The Bulls promising youngster struggled in his second matchup with the Clippers, finishing with only 3 points (1-5 FG) and 4 rebounds. He didn’t counterbalance his lackluster offensive showing with the same kind of defensive production we see on most nights, but considering it was against a title-contending Clippers team, I’m willing to let it slide. All we really want to see from a rookie after rough performances is self-awareness and an eagerness to get better. Williams demonstrated just that in his postgame press conference, giving The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry some insight on what he plans to do behind the scenes.

•   Yeah, so this kid is going to be special. While Williams may not have the kind of flashy and explosive performances we see from guys like LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards, I think comments like these show us he is on the right path. Williams’ assent toward stardom may be more of a slow build, but I’m totally willing to take that ride alongside him. Almost everything we have seen from him thus far – whether it be his fearlessness to guard LeBron James, his shocking productive mid-range game, or the maturity in his postgame interviews – is reason enough to believe the Bulls have a special talent on their hands. I’m pumped.

•   The only thing I still want to see from Williams as this first half wind down is a bit more consistency on offense. I don’t think I even need the results to be there, but rather just a greater willingness to hunt down his shots. There is no question that his size and natural physicality can add a different level to this team’s offensive attack, especially with Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. on the sideline. I know it can be hard to feel confident taking buckets away from guys like Coby White and Zach LaVine, but someone has to help him understand that he would actually be helping his teammates find better looks by taking up more of the defense’s attention.

•   Also, for what it’s worth, the only reason Bulls fans want to see more from Williams on this side of the ball is because he’s actually looked pretty freakin’ good creating his own shots this season. He is shooting 45.9 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from downtown. The only area on the court that he is shooting below the league average is in the left 3-point corner (4-11). Otherwise, he is hitting shots from all three levels at a relatively efficient rate. Is part of that due to his hesitant and careful decision-making? Sure, but I’d be okay seeing those numbers drop a bit if it meant he was getting more comfortable scoring the basketball. Anyway, he scored six-straight games in double figures before these past two games, so let’s see if the Bulls can get him back on a more active track.

•   I don’t know what to do about this whole Daniel Gafford situation. Last night he committed – no joke – four-straight turnovers in the first quarter. He is failing to rebound at a strong enough rate on the defensive end, and he feels like a liability practically any time he gets the ball outside the restricted area. I do think he can go back to his normal efficient and explosive self in an off-the-bench role … but that is just not a role the Bulls can afford to put him back into right now.

•   Last night was not at all the best Zach LaVine performance we’ve seen this season, but I did find myself in awe of his athletism even more than usual. His ability to make scoring anywhere on the court look so effortless and graceful is truly mesmerizing. And watching him pull that off with another elite talent like Kawhi Leonard on the floor makes it feel that much more special.

•   I don’t think we can stress enough how important these vets are to the Bulls improved play this season.

•   People forget that Denzel was a bucket at Michigan State (oh, and I-L-L!!!!).

•   Could Devon Dotson earn himself more playing time in the big leagues?


Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.