Bulls Assistant Praises Rising Star Ahead of Critical Season

Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

Getty Patrick Williams #44 of the Chicago Bulls goes up for a shot

As the Chicago Bulls prepare for Summer League play, forward Patrick Williams has put in the work to turn his aspirations into reality. Much of the Bulls’ success next season will hinge upon his development.

Heading into his third season, Williams has said that it’s on him to take the next step in his development.

He said as much during an appearance on the June 17 episode of the “Gimme the Hot Sauce” podcast with Bulls commentator Stacey King. But that has been a familiar refrain from the former fourth-overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, writes The Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley.

Well, Williams’ ascension into the player the Bulls need could be coming soon.

Patrick Williams Belongs

Williams has been very active this offseason. He flew out to California to train with DeMar DeRozan earlier this summer. And he has also been a regular in the gym on his own, per his Instagram stories.

That training has paid off in the form of a new look and demeanor for Williams.

NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer shared Bulls assistant John Bryant‘s impression of Williams following the first practice of the summer.

“Patrick looks like a man. He looks like a 3rd-year player. He stands out… There’s a sense of ‘I belong here. I am a 3rd-year player’ — and he carries himself as such.”

Williams’ assertiveness has been heavily discussed in his brief career. While he has flashed his potential, consistency has not been the norm. He suffered torn wrist ligaments last season that required surgery and missed all but 17 games with nine starts.

This time, with a healthy offseason, Williams told the Stacey King that he knows what is expected of him.

“For me, it’s just kind of picking my spots. Knowing when and where my spots are…everybody around the team is just telling me to stay aggressive, be aggressive, and try to…make plays. Whether it’s for myself or for teammates, on both ends….it’s just a matter of focusing on it in the game.”

Lofty Expectations

The Bulls held onto Williams in discussion for at least Jermai Grant and Rudy Gobert. Both have since been traded this offseason. One executive told Heavy’s Sean Deveney that the Bulls were going to exercise patience with the 20-year-old.

“They had no interest in trading Patrick Williams. They were not taking calls on him. He struggled after he came back from the injury. But he is young. He was Arturas’ first big draft pick. They’re going to give him a chance. You hate to trade a guy who is still only 20 years old. He’s basically still a rookie.”

Williams will also be extension eligible next offseason, adding to the need for both sides to find out what he is this season.

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The Bulls do not want to end up in a similar situation as they have with Coby White. NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson reported that they took calls on the fourth-year guard. Ultimately, their asking price of a young rotation player and draft capital was not met.

There is a big difference between how the Bulls have handled White – the last pick of the previous regime – and Williams.

But they need their affinity for Williams to pay off sooner rather than later or they’ll be in a bind.

Potential is Dangerous

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra raved over Williams’ potential while in charge of the US Select Team ahead of the 2021 Olympics.

“Patrick is quite a physical specimen—strong, agile. He can play either the wing position or that versatile 4 position. He is set up in the future to be a great two-way basketball player, to be able to defend virtually everybody on the floor, whatever your scheme may be. Then, offensively, his game has already really grown. You can tell he is extremely dedicated to having that kind of improvement.”

Forbes’ Jason Patt noted just how pivotal that potential is to the Bulls while lamenting their offseason to this point.

“There’s a lot riding on Williams in particular in Year 3 after Chicago was reportedly hesitant to include him in major trade offers. His progress and the health of the roster could very well wind up making or breaking next season.”

They have not taken a step forward this offseason either, says The Atheltic’s Darnell Mayberry.

Any significant improvement this team experiences next season will have to come from within barring a surprising trade. Specifically, it will have to come from Williams who has teased his tremendous potential for long enough.

Williams will not participate in Summer League action, per Schaefer. But his new physique and air of confidence should only serve him well when the regular season rolls around.

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