The offseason of doubt continues for the Chicago Bulls even after they proved many people wrong last season. There are some who have them figured for a Play-In Tournament team at best this coming season.
Others see them missing the playoffs entirely which would be a disaster.
But there is a general consensus that there is one player that could swing the pendulum back in their favor if he makes the requisite jump in his career.
That player is, of course, Patrick Williams, and his development has been at the center of the Bulls’ offseason whether they admit it or not. Their lack of major tweaks to the roster means he has to get closer to what they project from him if they want to not only return to the playoffs but actually win a series.
Bulls Remain Committed To Williams
“They put a lot into Patrick Williams,” said ESPN’s Brian Windhorst during “The Hoop Collective” podcast. “They believe a lot in him…they think that that’s the type of guy that can be a core player for them.”
Windhorst went on to say that the Bulls are fine with passing up the opportunity at landing a player such as Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner because they have Williams.
The 6-foot-7 Williams averaged 9.0 points on 63.7% true shooting last season.
He also knocked down nearly 52% of his threes but he only appeared in 17 regular season games after a wrist injury sidelined him five games into the campaign. He flashed in the regular season finale and as the Bulls were being outmatched in the playoffs.
As the first draft pick of Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas’ tenure, he has long been expected to have plenty of time to come along.
The issue is that any hopes they have of an extended playoff run hinges on him.
Bulls ‘Stock Down’
“Arturas Karnisovas…put a lot of stock into Patrick Williams,” Windhorst reiterated. “If Patrick Williams comes out this year and is a two-way monster, then we may have a different discussion…But I don’t feel great about the Bulls right now. Stock is down.”
This is just the latest in a long list of examples showing the massive pressure being placed upon Williams’ shoulders.
Injuries were not an issue during his rookie season as he made 71 appearances.
But his aggressiveness and consistency to this point leave room for skepticism that he will be able to live up to the hype. He has said the right things and gotten in a full offseason of work including with teammate DeMar DeRozan and seven-time All-Star Paul George.
All of this should pay off for Williams. If that is the case, then the Bulls should be able to be out the modest expectations set for them.
Williams Won’t Have to Shoulder Load
Despite all the fuss, Williams will still be on the floor with three former All-Stars in DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic. The Bulls also have point-of-attack defenders in Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu, freeing Williams of those responsibilities as well.
He won’t be relied upon for the bulk of the offense as much as he will for his aforementioned three-point prowess.
To take full advantage of it, though, will require Williams to take more than the 1.9 threes and 7.2 shots overall per game that he has to this point in his career.