Bulls Coach Issues Public Challenge to Young Starter

Billy Donovan

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls reacts against the Golden State Warriors during the second half at United Center on January 15, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bulls took down the Atlanta Hawks on January 23, winning 111-100, and it was an encouraging performance for Chicago for a number of reasons.

Six Bulls players scored in double-figures, led by Demar DeRozan, who had a game-high 26 points and several young players had standout performances, including guard Coby White (10 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, two steals)) and forward Patrick Williams, who finished with a season-high 10 rebounds to go with 18 points.

The Bulls selected Williams with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, and after a shaky start as a rebounder over his first two seasons, it has been encouraging to see him grow in that area. Bulls head coach Billy Donovan made it clear after the win he’d like to see more of the same from Williams.

Billy Donovan Suggests New Standard for Patrick Williams

“I thought Patrick was really, really good tonight on the glass,” Donovan said, via 670 The Score. “He had some really important, timely rebounds both defensively and offensively that were important for us in crucial situations.”

The Bulls coach made it known that’s what he expects from Williams moving forward. “He’s gotten better,” Donovan added. “He’s improving. You can see growth in him. But that’s what he’s got to do. You’ve got to feel him on the backboard. He’s got great explosiveness off the floor, and he doesn’t need necessarily a big gather or a long run to jump. He’s really explosive off two feet. When he gets in and makes those kind of efforts to get on the backboard, he really is an elite rebounder. And we need him to do that.”

Williams is having a very solid month so far. He netted a season-high 22 points against the Nets on January 4, and he has scored 10 or more points in eight of his last 10 games. If he can continue to clean up the glass, it’ll mean good things for the Bulls as they attempt to make their playoff push.

Donovan Wants Williams to Continue to Be Aggressive

Williams played 31 minutes against the Hawks, and he was equally efficient and aggressive, also going 4-5 from the charity stripe. Donovan stressed the importance of aggressiveness for Williams in particular.

“He’s got to go,” Donovan said. “He’s got to go. He’s got to go hard, and he’s got to go aggressive. Now, sometimes you can be in there defensively on one side of the lane line and the ball goes to the other side and you’re just not going to get it. But I think the more he can go to the glass offensively, when he has opportunities, (he should) do that. But I thought he chased the ball tonight. When the ball in and around his area, he went up and grabbed it. Listen, there’s going to be some nights rebounding-wise where the ball somehow finds you and it’s a little bit easier. But there’s also some ones that you have to go get out of your zone a little bit and chase. I though tonight he chased a lot of those.”

For his part, the young forward thinks he could be peaking at just the right time.

“It’s that time to start getting in the groove and really build or solidify the identity that you’ve been building for the first part of the season. I think that goes for us as a team, and also for me as a player,” Williams said after Chicago’s win over Atlanta.

The Bulls are currently in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a 22-24 record. If they want to make a legitimate push over the second half of the season, they’re going to need Williams to be a dominant force. It’ll be interesting to see if he can keep it up.

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