Some Patrick Williams Thoughts, Playoff Injuries, and Other Bulls Bullets
I got a long-time friend in town visiting this weekend. We’re trying to have a jam-packed day of bro fun, so I’m going to breeze through these bullets. What’s an easy way to do that? Talk about how conflicting Patrick Williams is!
- Zach LaVine probably still takes the cake as the most polarizing player on the Bulls, but I’d say Williams has started to shrink the gap. Expectations were high coming into his third season in the NBA, especially after he had to miss almost the entirety of his sophomore campaign with a bad wrist injury. And while he did go on to average a career-high in points (10.2), there is no question that he struggled to meet those lofty expectations. Part of the Bulls’ failure to take the next competitive step falls on his shoulders, particularly when we consider his inability to have a greater impact on the offensive end and in the rebounding department.
- With that said, I’m not sure we should mistake failing to meet expectations as failing to make any progress at all this season. If anything, some of our expectations may have simply been too high for a 21-year-old who missed 65 games worth of development. And, I get it, the No. 4 overall pick is the No. 4 overall pick. We should hold him to a higher standard than your average first-rounder. But the fact of the matter is that he still has a lot of time to take serious strides in his career, and I do think he continued to give us some hope that he can do that this season.
- Williams’ defensive talent continues to give him a strong foundation to build upon. Some of the Bulls’ most impressive wins of the season were, in part, thanks to his ability to guard the opposing team’s best player. Julius Randle, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, respectively, make up the four players Williams spent the most time guarding this season, per NBA Stats. He allowed Tatum to score the fewest points of the four players. He held Randle to 41.9 percent shooting. He forced Durant into 8 turnovers. He blocked Antetokounmpo twice. Williams is already an above-average wing-stopper with an elite NBA frame. Rarely are we able to say that about a player his age.
- Offensively, we saw the hesitation that plagued him throughout his first two seasons subside. Does that mean he was as aggressive on that end of the floor as we want? No. But he took a step in the right direction, attacking more frequently off the dribble and nearly doubling his attempts per game behind the arc. Speaking of which, we’ve now seen enough evidence to consider Williams a suitable 3-point threat. He is shooting 41.4 percent from long-range in his career, which is undeniably positive.
- Now, I’m not going to deny that we still need to see Williams more regularly create offensive both for himself and his peers. I have real questions about how quickly he can grow in that area. I also have concerns about whether or not the Bulls have offered him the best environment to do just that. This win-now philosophy hasn’t necessarily given him the room nor usage rating to make consistent mistakes. He’s also just not going to get to run much offense when both Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan are on the team.
- I don’t know. At the end of the day, I guess I just remain decently optimistic about Williams’ ability to become a solid player in this league. I totally understand that it hasn’t necessarily been the most fun journey up until this point, but I’m just not going to give up on a guy who’s still 21 years old and has only 170 career games under his belt. We’ll talk way more about how important he is for this franchise throughout this offseason. Just sharing some random thoughts here.
- The injury bug has arrived. Not only has Kawhi Leonard now had to miss time with a knee injury, but Embiid is now out for the 76ers’ next game due to his own knee injury. Ugh.
- Is that good?
- I’m still trying to wrap my head around how they let this happen …
- Come home, Robbie!
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