Every offseason I tell myself not to let random open gym footage impact my perception of a player. And every offseason … I fail.
PATRICK WILLIAMS IS TAKING THE BULLS ALL THE WAY, BABY! *TEARS SHIRT OFF AND TAKES TWO SHOTS OF MALORT*
I’m kidding (kinda), but the latest Patrick Williams footage is pretty darn hard not to drool over. The Chicago Bulls’ third-year forward recently participated in a scrimmage led by basketball trainer Olin Simplis (aka The Guard Whisperer). Guarded by Evan Mobley – the Cavaliers’ 2021 No. 3 overall pick – Williams sank impressive shot after impressive shot. For a player who the Bulls have encouraged to ramp up the offensive aggressiveness, these clips felt extremely encouraging.
Check out some of the highlights below:
I mean, did you see those stepbacks!? And doesn’t that jumper look pure!?
Pair this footage alongside what we saw in Patrick Williams’ Drew League debut earlier this summer, and it’s hard not to think the 20-year-old has worked hard on his handles. While he’s never been a particularly bad ball-handler (in fact, he’s always been rather solid for his size), we’ve never seen him move this fluidly or create this much space off the dribble. Could we be seeing the results of extra work with DeMar DeRozan this summer?
Over his first two seasons in the league, Williams has largely relied on his length and superior athleticism to rise over defenders to get his shot off. And, to his credit, he’s done that rather well. For the Bulls to take the next step this season, though, they need the former No. 4-overall pick to elevate his offensive game. Polishing his footwork and tightening his handle is certainly one way to do just that, as it could give opposing defenses yet another shot creator to worry about.
On top of all that is the fact that Williams knocked down multiple shots from long range. I’ve consistently expressed confidence in his ability to become a higher-volume 3-point shooter, as he’s already started his NBA career shooting 41.3 percent from downtown. Now, to be sure, that has come on just an average of 1.9 attempts per game, but he’s still built an encouraging foundation.
Whether it be in his Pro-Am runs or these open gym clips, Williams also appears to get into his shooting stroke quicker than ever before. When we consider the number of times he’s hesitated or passed up open 3s, more confidence in his ability to get the shot off faster could be huge when it comes to increasing his volume. The opportunities from 3-point range are going to be there when playing alongside guys like Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, and Williams has to help his team – which averaged the third-fewest 3PAs last season – take advantage of those opportunities.
Look, I know we have to see all of this translate to the NBA court before we actually get excited. But I also hate when people act like this kind of footage means absolutely nothing. These practices are how players improve and add to their game. Nobody is telling you to make any grand judgments based on what you see, but it’s fair to evaluate the film.
Little things like Williams speeding up his release or working on a stepback are simply worthy of a note. Development isn’t linear, so just because he’s flashing these things right now doesn’t mean we’ll see it on opening night. However, who’s to say these aren’t things that will eventually begin to show themselves over time?
With that said, I’ll just post the video before anyone else does …
For some more highlights (a couple of smart passes and strong finishes) make sure to check out the full video on The Guard Whisper’s YouTube channel below: