It’s simple: Get Patrick Williams the ball more.
Over the last two games, the Chicago Bulls No. 4-overall pick has taken a combined seven shot attempts, his fewest in any two-game span this season. Likewise, he has failed to record at least one assist in two-straight games for the first time since the beginning of the season (December 31st and January 1st). No, Williams isn’t (and isn’t expected to be) some kind of consistent playmaker, but it’s another number that helps emphasize just how little he’s had the ball in his hands as of late.
Now, look, we’re talking about just two games here. We shouldn’t make any grand judgments on this sample size or develop any long-term concerns. However, I feel like these two games have highlighted a broader issue that’s developed as the season’s gone on: Williams’ lack of an offensive role.
The funny thing is that just seven games ago it looked like Williams could be on the cusp of a breakout. His opportunities skyrocketed in Nikola Vucevic’s second and third games with the team. The rookie recorded double-digit shot attempts in back-to-back games for only the second time this season. He took advantage of the extra attention on the big man by cutting hard to the basket, and he used a couple of screens to create separation for an easy jumper. Williams not only looked comfortable next to Vucevic, but he looked confident in his own offensive capabilities, something he struggled with during the early portion of this season. Things should be trending in that direction at this point in the season, yet we just watched two of his most uneventful games of the season.
To be clear, I’m not putting this on Williams. While I’d like to see him a bit more eager to score in his own right, I feel like it’s much more on his teammates and coaching staff to ensure he is involved. After all, the guy is the second-youngest player in the NBA who is adjusting to life alongside two All-Stars. To think he’s going to feel totally comfortable screaming “let me get mine” would be kind of silly.
Fortunately, head coach Billy Donovan seems to realize it’s on him and the players to help Williams out, but that also seems to come with a caveat: “We’re trying to do some things for him for him to be aggressive and utilize his skill set, but I also don’t want him to just be like, ‘hey, just be aggressive and attack the basket and not read the defense and try to make the right basketball play’ either.'”
I mean, sure. I don’t want Williams going rogue and claiming he’s the rightful owner of the United Center ( … on second thought), but I feel like he does have to be given the green light to create a little offense for himself. In nine of the Bulls’ last 10 wins, Williams has finished in double-figures. The guy is also shooting 47.6 percent from the floor and 38.3 percent from downtown.
He’s done nothing to suggest he isn’t capable of handling a bit of a bigger workload, and with his combination of size and athleticism, I just don’t see why he and Tomas Satoransky should be mimicking shot attempts.
Patrick Williams scoreless tonight with just 3 shots in 26 minutes. Bulls need to get him more involved in the offense with weak-side cuts to the basket when Vucevic or LaVine draw double teams. I know he’s a rookie, but Williams can’t be a spectator on offense.
— Mark Schanowski (@MarkSchanowski) April 12, 2021
Again, I don’t want to overreact to just two games, and I’m sure the addition of new talent has given him a learning curve just like everyone else. However, I’m really hoping that carving out a more consistent and prominent role on the offensive end becomes a bigger priority over this final stretch of the season. I have to imagine it will not only do the Bulls come good but also Williams’ development heading into next season.