Billed as a key to their becoming a legitimate playoff contender, instead, Williams seemed stuck in many areas of his game. One thing that we heard all about last offseason but rarely saw once the season began was his ability to handle the ball.
Williams averaged just 2.6 drives per game and more than 76% of his made field goals came off an assist, per NBA.com. That was the third-highest mark behind starting center Nikola Vucevic and former teammate Derrick Jones Jr. whose athleticism and offensive skillset had head coach Billy Donovan using him as a small-ball center.
A former top-five pick, Williams is capable of more and flashed as much in a new video.
Williams, 21, averaged a career-high 10.2 points with 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists while shooting 46.4% from the floor and 41.5% from beyond the arc. A starter to open the season, his signature lack of offensive aggression led Donovan to pull him from the starting lineup.
Despite Williams appearing in all 82 games last season, he only started 65 of them.
Patrick Williams Unsatisfied With Performance Last Season
Williams started seven of the final 23 regular season games with the Bulls going 3-4 in his starts and 11-5 with him coming off the bench down the stretch. After the season, even Williams noted that the campaign did not go as he had wanted it to coming in with visions of on-ball creation and his playing small-ball center.
The 6-foot-8 forward also lamented not showing off his ability to create.
“I wanted to be more consistent,” he told Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic in April. “I wanted to play-make a little bit more…The opportunity was there. I don’t think I grasped it.”
Williams will have to seize his opportunities as he is still behind DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic in the pecking order. The Bulls added a veteran in Torrey Craig who comes with experience both starting and off the bench in free agency too.
There have also been whispers that he would rather play a different position.
“Williams may be the big mystery player for the upcoming season,” wrote Bulls.com beat writer Sam Smith in the June 29 edition of his mailbag. “He becomes extension eligible and has stated he wants to play wing, so that suggests he may be ready to embrace that assertiveness everyone keeps calling for.”
There is a significant roadblock to that happening, though.
Bulls Might Need to Pick a Lane
DeRozan is still on the Bulls’ roster meaning Williams’ minutes on the wing will have to come with the former on the bench. They formed a bond, forged in part during a “summer from hell” training regimen last summer.
That continued this offseason and added second-year wing Dalen Terry to the mix.
DeRozan is heading into the final year of his three-year, $81.9 million contract and previous murmurs of another contract in Chicago have all but disappeared.
That still doesn’t mean the Bulls are looking to move off of him – or any other piece of this core – just yet which leaves Williams in the same position he’s been in since he entered the NBA. If nothing changes, it will be even more critical for head coach Billy Donovan to make sure he’s doing his part to ensure Williams gets going next season too.