The Chicago Bulls‘ offseason has put “lots of pressure” on one of the team’s stars. Instead of a flurry of moves to keep pace with the rest of the Eastern Conference – or even themselves from last offseason – the Bulls opted for a more measured approach. This summer’s buzzword was “continuity”.
The Bulls’ only other outside addition this offseason was rookie Dalen Terry.
With so much riding on their improved health and internal development, there is more riding on third-year forward Patrick Williams than ever, especially in light of some of the reports on the Bulls’ offseason trade talks.
Patrick Williams can ‘Swing’ Bulls’ Season
“With the front office essentially running it back in 2022-23, it’s clear how much faith they have in Williams to take that next step,” writes Jason Patt for Forbes. “It was already somewhat clear given the trade rumors involving Williams over the last year.”
The Bulls held off on including Williams in trade offers for Jerami Grant whom the Detroit Pistons eventually traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. They also refused to include him in talks for Rudy Gobert whom the Minnesota Timberwolves sent a haul to the Utah Jazz for anyway.
Patt argues that Williams’ potential has made those decisions understandable. He does say that Williams’ mentality remains a concern heading into Year 3. It is something Williams himself has also acknowledged.
But Patt also says that it is incumbent on the Bulls to help the 21-year-old forward maximize his tremendous potential.
“The Bulls can also help Williams’ development by giving him more ball-handling reps. That won’t happen much with the starters, but giving Williams more freedom with bench units is something Billy Donovan must try out this season.”
That echoes other sentiments we have heard on Williams this summer.
A Plan for Patrick Williams
It is easy to say that Williams needs to do more this coming season. The third year is typically regarded as a make-or-break season for NBA players to define themselves. That is not always the case.
But the Bulls should go out of their way to ensure that it doesn’t happen to them in the case of Williams.
“Even if Williams is primarily used as a floor spacer,” says Pat, “they need to experiment with other aspects of his game so he can actually flesh out his game.”
Williams shot 51.7% from three-point range last season and sported a 72.2% effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot looks. But he only attempted 1.7 triples and 6.0 field goals per game.
That was eighth on the Bulls last season and put Williams behind three players that figure to come off of the bench if this team is healthy in Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu, and Coby White. He has to make more of an impact on offense than those players as a starter even with his defensive responsibilities.
A ‘Super Win’ for Williams’ Ceiling
Patt closes by pointing out that a leap by Williams is not guaranteed. And that it’s up to Williams to prove the skeptics wrong. But that left the question of just what would constitute a successful season for Williams.
OG Anunoby did win a championship with the Toronto Raptors. He is also a highly sought-after player amid reports he could want out of his current situation.
The question for Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley is whether or not they would have traded Anunoby for either Grant or Gobert. If their answer is different than what played out, they may have overvalued Williams after all.