If Erik Spoelstra’s comments about Patrick Williams’ development aren’t enough to spark excitement for Year 2, then maybe Williams’ own words will be.
The 19-year-old is currently the youngest player at Team USA training camp. The Bulls No. 4-overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft got an invite to participate on the Select Team, which is a 17-man roster created to help train the official 12-man roster that will head to Tokyo later this month. For the first time since the end of the offseason, Williams spoke with the media on Wednesday night, and he made very clear what this time in Las Vegas meant to him.
“It’s an opportunity. Opportunities, one thing about them, they’ll pass you by if you let it. So just coming here, of course working, but just being a sponge to anybody and everybody,” Williams told reporters (h/t Bulls dot com). “I mean, you go the best of the best here. If they weren’t the wouldn’t be here. So whether it’s a coach or a nutritionist, or anybody that works for USA, they are the best at what they do. Just being a sponge to anybody, keeping open ears even if the conversation with me … Not afraid to ask questions. Kind of stepping out of my comfort zone a bit to and being a little more vocal and a little more interactional. It’s an opportunity and I can’t let it pass me by.”
While Williams’ on-court demeanor may say otherwise, the second-youngest player in the NBA last season never acted like he was anything other than that. Williams was blunt on draft night about how many things he had to learn, and he reiterated his excitement to do just that during Bulls preseason training camp: “Just learning. Every day I’ve come in here and I’m learning new things, terminology, or places on the court, things like that, and reads to make. Just coming every day learning has been the best part for me. That’s a dream come true.” For a bigger flashback, check out our post here.
In other words, it should come as no surprise that Williams is taking a very similar approach to his first Team USA stint. There is arguably no better way to hone your craft than competing against some of the best players in the world, and Williams is (fortunately for the Bulls) taking none of that for granted.
Even better, he is already thinking about how all these first-year experiences can help him take the next step in his sophomore season.
“(My) rookie season, it was more than I could ever ask for. Kind of thrown into the fire, honestly, just without having the proper introduction to the NBA, just having four preseason games, then right to the regular season. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, honestly. It was a challenge, for sure. But I was up for the challenge and I think I handled it pretty well with the help of my teammates and my coaching staff. I kind of know now the game plan, as far as my development, my future. I don’t have all the answers yet, but with the help of my coaches we’ve put a game plan together to get to where I need to get to.”
I’m loving everything about this offseason so far for Williams, especially since he seems to have a pretty good mentor by his side.
Williams said he and Zach LaVine went to dinner last night and LaVine shared his Select team experiences with him. “He encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone, ask questions and be a sponge,” Williams said. https://t.co/2RFl4zIvnK
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 7, 2021
Next up, Summer League!