ESPN is at it again.
Before the season even tipped off, they had me #MadOnline with their projected Top-100 players list. Zach LaVine sat outside the Top-50 at No. 56, one spot lower than his ranking the year before. What was especially controversial, however, was that Lonzo Ball sat two spots AHEAD of LaVine in the rankings. Players like Jusuf Nurkic, Deandre Ayton, and Michael Porter Jr. were also projected to be better than the Bulls’ All-Star. But, okay, fine. While it still felt confusing at the time, we can at least cut them some slack since the season hadn’t even started yet, right?
Well, fast forward several months, and ESPN has released a new list that has me #MadderOnline. Fortunately, Zach LaVine has not fallen victim to any new disrespect, but his rookie teammate has.
ESPN released their Top 25 Under 25 list on Tuesday afternoon, and nowhere to be found is the Bulls’ No. 4-overall draft pick. On the surface, even I’ll admit that this doesn’t sound crazy. There is a lot of high-level young talent in today’s league, so it shouldn’t necessarily be a slight to Williams that he has yet to enter the mix. Although, when we then take into consideration that this list is made, specifically, with the future in mind as opposed to the current production (which is why we see a player like LaMelo Ball already at No. 3), the absence of Williams feels pretty damn weird.
I mean, based on this list, I’m supposed to believe players like Mikal Bridges (No. 17), Jarrett Allen (No. 23), and Lonzo Ball (No. 24) all have brighter futures than the second-youngest player in the NBA who has started every game he’s appeared in for the Bulls while normally guarding the opposing team’s best player. Like … how? I also shouldn’t forget to mention that Williams is shooting 48.0 percent from the field and 38.0 percent from behind the arc. Oh, and he’s received some pretty big stamps of approval from NBA elites like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Devin Booker.
Each analyst that participated in the creation of the list also provided their own individual ranking, and it’s even weirder to me that Williams didn’t pop up on any of those. Kevin Pelton put guys like Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson in the top-25, while Bobby Marks featured RJ Barrett and Dejounte Murray. Again, the headline specifies that this list is “ranking young stars on future potential,” so that means Williams is on a less-optimistic track than any of these players. I just don’t buy that.
Look, I know I’m a bit biased here. I could very well be higher on Williams than some others (not The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, though, who sees him as a future star ((and has also earned a beer from me any time he is in Chicago)). But even if I take off my Patrick Williams fan hat, I just can’t see how he can be discarded when making a list of the top-25 future talents.