A career night from Chicago Bulls (46-36) forward Patrick Williams elicited a somewhat surprising reaction from The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry: disappointment. That is almost as surprising as Williams exploding for 35 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Bulls’ regular-season finale on Sunday, April 10.
They still came away with a 124-120 victory over the Timberwolves on the impressive showing from Williams as well as that of rookie Ayo Dosunmu. The 38th-overall pick also set a new career-high with 25 points on 50.0% shooting from the floor and downtown.
He also recorded six assists, five rebounds, and a pair of steals.
Williams was not as efficient as his teammate was, shooting just 47.6 percent from the floor. He did knock down 3-of-4 threes and was aggressive in getting to the charity stripe connecting on 12-of-14 free throws.
Both the attempts and makes were career-highs for the former Florida State Seminole, at least doubling both previous marks.
Tired of Waiting
Mayberry was appearing on the “CHGO Bulls Live Show” to preview the Bulls’ first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks that begins on Sunday, April 17. He took issue with the talented forward whose previous career-best was 24 points set in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets last season.
Host Matt Peck asked Mayberry for his impressions of Williams’ performance.
“It disappointed me”, Mayberry told the CHGO panel, “because we know he could do this. Like, it was good to see, but we know he can do this. We know that it’s in him. Why does it take everyone being out of the lineup for you to show it?”
To Mayberry’s point, this was the first time this season that Williams has attempted double-digit shots, something he did 16 times as a rookie. Williams’ previous high this season was 18 points set just five days earlier in the 127-106 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks; a game in which LaVine sat out.
It was Williams’ 37th game with double-digit points but just his fifth this season.
In Williams’ defense, the Bulls’ stars have only missed 30 games combined this season between LaVine’s 15 games, DeRozan’s six missed contests, and Vucevic’s nine absences.
Williams missed 65 contests alone following wrist surgery and the Bulls went 37-28 without him.
Who He Is
It isn’t the raw production that rubbed Mayberry the wrong way, though. It was the aggression Williams displayed.
“He even said after the game, the coaches and his teammates have told him for two seasons now, ‘be aggressive’. We’ve all talked about it, we’ve all written it. And, it’s like, he only does it when he’s in a Summer League setting, or when everyone’s out of the lineup, and…he’s got to be better than that. I mean, after two years – and yes, he’s missed a lot of time this season – but you want to see more.”
Like many Bulls fans, Mayberry says that that has been his biggest frustration with Williams in response to host Dave Watson.
“Basic things that we’ve tried to say – the media has said it to him, coaches, teammates, fans. I’m sure he’s all over social media and he sees the reaction. There’s never an excuse for Pat Williams to have zero shots in a game, which he did a couple weeks ago. He only played 13 minutes, but there’s no excuse…to take zero shots.”
Sooner or Later
Again to Mayberry’s point, there was not one game last season in which Williams finished with zero shot attempts. His mark for fewest takes in a game last season was two which only happened one time and fans were clamoring for more then.
Mayberry is in the same boat.
“It was good. It was a good sign to see him show he can do that in the NBA, regardless of who wasn’t on the floor. But I’d like to see it more often, and that’s where I am with Patrick Williams. Going into his third season, we can’t keep talking about the same thing next year.”
When Peck asked whether or not the time Williams has missed allows for some leeway, Mayberry was not in full agreement and used Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes as an example. Barnes, the fourth-overall pick out of Williams’ alma mater of Florida State, has averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.1 steals while being a top candidate for Rookie of the Year this season
“It’s a mentality thing for me, Matt. You can’t be counted on to be…one of the pillars of this franchise moving forward and have such passivities on offense, for sure. And, as Will [Gottlieb] pointed out, it’s not like he’s elite defensively. He’s got a lot of promise. But going into his third season, this cannot continue to be a talking point. This cannot be the narrative on Patrick Williams moving forward.”
On Them Too
Gottlieb then asked if an aggressive mentality is something that can be learned while comparing Williams’ situation to similar issues experienced by Coby White as recently as this season and former Bulls center Wendell Carter about whom Mayberry wrote in December of 2020 (subscription required).
The Bulls traded Carter to the Orlando Magic just over three months later on March 25, 2021, in the deal that brought Vucevic to Chicago.
Mayberry gave a very interesting answer on Williams’ level of culpability.
“I do think that the team has some responsibility in this because you have DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine who are the focal points, obviously. And then, after that, they want Vooch to get the ball. So, if you’re Patrick Williams, if you’re Coby White…Javonte Green is shooting it well from three. But they have been told to not shoot certain shots and to, basically, get the stars the ball.”
That is where Mayberry says Williams gets the benefit of the doubt for going out and executing what the coaches ask of him.
The pass is quickly rescinded, however.
“If you’re a player, if you have “dog” in you or however you want to put it, it doesn’t matter what the coaches tell you. If you know you’re capable of doing something you’re going to go out there and do it. Especially if you know it’s going to help the team.”
Mayberry ended his “rant” by saying that he is a believer in Williams adding that agreed with the decision to hold onto the second-year pro at the trade deadline even as rumors of a potential trade for Detroit Pistons forward, Jerami Grant, were heating up.
Mayberry, who wrote about Williams’ “undeniable flashes of promise” (subscription required), just doesn’t want it to take the circumstances that existed in the regular-season finale to get the most out of Williams. Surely, that is something Bulls fans can relate to.