DeMar DeRozan was blunt: “Pat is my main victim.”
As the Chicago Bulls’ leading scorer sat in front of reporters on Thursday afternoon, he made it known that his youngest teammate would be forced under his wing this summer.
“I plan on having a lot of guys come to LA for sure. Work with me, [do] a lot of the hell things I put myself through in the offseason, especially Pat, “DeRozan told reporters during his end-of-season press conference.” I’m looking forward to having him spend some time with me in LA. Having him get up at 4:00 o’clock in the morning. You know, kind of breaking him down.”
DeRozan said the invitation is extended to anyone else on the roster who wants to experience his rigorous regimen. But it is clear that Williams’ offseason growth is a point of emphasis for the veteran forward.
Indeed, missing 65 regular-season games due to a wrist injury, there is no question Williams’ on-court development hit a speed bump. The 20-year-old still showed some encouraging improvement over his final 22 games of the regular season, but the Bulls will need a much bigger step forward to reach their full potential next season. Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley drafted Williams with the No. 4-overall pick as a potential cornerstone for this new era of Bulls basketball.
To be clear, as the youngest NCAA prospect in that draft, the expectation was always that Williams was more of a long-term investment. But he still must demonstrate steady progress to take this Bulls team to the next level, and DeRozan sounds prepared to make sure he does just that.
“I think that would be one thing I would love to sit and address with him. What he feels he wants to be better at. What he can be better at. Maybe what I think he can be better at,” DeRozan told reporters. “I think, first and foremost, it’s all about the mentality of just having the right mindset and preparation to put in the work. I think the mentality carries everything else over on the right track. Just getting him right mentality, all of these guys mentally, is the main priority right now.”
DeRozan went on to say he learned his offseason game plan from Kobe Bryant. The 32-year-old implied he’s been going about the same routine for years, and I think it’s safe to say it’s kept him fresh after the season-long performance we all just watched.
See, this is just another example of why you invest in someone like DeRozan. He’s turned into one heck of a veteran leader over the course of his career, and he’s the type who can help turn around an entire organization’s culture and reputation. As an impressionable and extremely talented young player, DeRozan’s leadership could truly be the difference between tapping into Williams’ skills sooner rather than later.