Perhaps the Chicago Bulls’ ability to upgrade their roster is being underestimated.
“If the Bulls are going to trade their way to contention, they’ll have to do something major,” explains Zach Buckley for Bleacher Report. “Most major win-now moves would almost certainly cost this franchise [Patrick] Williams.
“That would be tough for some to take, primarily those who picture the 21-year-old as a Kawhi Leonard-in-training. Since our objective here is upping the competitiveness of next season’s club, though, we don’t have to fret over just how Williams’ ceiling can climb.”
- Coby White
- Patrick Williams
- 1st rd pick
Anunoby, 25, is averaging 16.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists this season.
He is shooting 47.6% from the floor, 38.8% from three, and 83.6% at the free throw line hinting at elite potential with 50/40/90 efficiency in the future for the 6-foot-7, 230-pounder who has spent a lot of time as a shooting guard this season. His skill set would seem to fit nicely next to DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine.
In many ways, Anunoby is a realized version of what the Bulls hope the 21-year-old Williams could be: capable offensively but, more importantly, a shutdown defender.
“I don’t know if I see anyone else in the league that…one night he’s guarding Anthony Davis and the next night it’s DeMar DeRozan, and the next night it’s Jokic and the next night it’s Beal,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said, per Adam Laskaris of Offside.
“It’s such a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and speed and strength and positions (that he guards.)”
Raptors Racing Against The Clock
“If Toronto doesn’t plan on keeping Anunoby long-term—he can hit free agency in 2024—it might prefer this package,” argues Buckley. “The Raptors could easily envision Williams as a future two-way star, and they could use White to either back up or even replace Fred VanVleet.”
Replacing VanVleet – who can become an unrestricted free agent his summer by opting out of the final year of his contract – is the more pressing issue for Toronto.
But Anunoby’s situation might not be far behind in terms of priority.
“I think OG…would like a change of scenery,” reported Chris Haynes on the ‘#thisleague UNCUT’ podcast on February 2. “I don’t know if he’s going to management or it’s gotten that far to request a trade, but management knows how he feels. He’s let it be known already. I think he would embrace a change of scenery.”
Unfortunately for the Bulls, Haynes also noted that the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans could spark a bidding war for the former 23rd-overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
The Bulls Might Be Better Off Waiting on Patrick Williams
For what it would cost to pry Anunoby loose, the Bulls might be wise to simply continue molding Williams into what they envision. Going for a player who boasts such a similar skill set for such a potentially high cost would only set the asset-depleted Bulls back even further. Add to that White has proven to be a more versatile player than previously thought and Anunoby seems more like the type of player the Bulls should target rather than an actual target.
Chicago has held off on moving Williams for similar players before and is believed to be waiting to include him in a deal for the next superstar that comes available.
He certainly earned the nickname “The Paw” for a reason.