A sign that reads “patience is a virtue” should hover above Patrick Williams’ head at all times.
The Chicago Bulls’ No. 4-overall pick has been the root of frustration for a handful of Bulls fans this season, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Arturas Karnisovas (and his front office) has made his belief in the power forward abundantly clear, but he has yet to become the quality of complementary player deserving of this (so far) unwavering support.
Can we blame him, though? Not only did Williams’ roster and role undergo significant changes after his rookie season in the NBA, but he also missed 79 percent of last season’s regular season games. The valuable time he should have spent developing his skills and carving out his place alongside this All-Star starting lineup was spent rehabbing a dislocated wrist.
As matter of fact, when Williams suited up for Monday night’s battle with the Boston Celtics, he matched the number of regular season games he appeared in last season. And it feels at least worth a note that he scored a season-high 17 points in that very game.
Williams has shown an increased level of aggressiveness and execution over the past couple of weeks. He’s finished scoring double digits in seven of the team’s past 10 contests and has shot 51.2 percent from the field over that stretch. He also currently leads the Bulls in total blocks this season and ranks third in offensive rebounds behind the Bulls’ two centers.
I know, those stats aren’t the gaudiest, but this still represents legitimate progress for Williams. And that’s what we’ve been waiting to see.
Whether it was sinking his three of four shots from behind the arc or not hesitating to attack off the dribble, it was Williams’ offensive game that really shined against Boston. Twice he fearlessly took Jayson Tatum off the dribble and flashed some of that ball-handling that looked so promising in offseason workout videos.
First, he got Tatum to dance with a behind-the-back move and crossover before sinking the midrange jumper.
Later in the 4th quarter with the clock winding down, he went behind the back again before fading away at the elbow for the smooth release.
While Williams has flashed an intriguing midrange game before, he had never brought moves like these to the NBA floor. Not only was it encouraging to see him have the confidence to finally go for it, but it was even more encouraging to see him convert against one of the better teams (and players) in the league.
I’m sure many are going to feel I’m grasping at straws whenever I talk about games like these for Williams. However, these are the exact kind of things that need to be pointed out when it comes to a young player’s development. Not to mention, if the recent success of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. has taught Bulls fans anything, it’s that these things can take time.
I know patience isn’t the most exciting thing to preach (especially when the goal of the organization is to win games), but it could come with quite the payoff.