We’ve heard Chicago Bulls announcer refer to talented but yet-to-blossom forward Patrick Williams as “Project Pat.” It’s a nod to the Memphis rapper of the same name who had a hit record with Chickenhead and for providing the hook for his brother Juicy J’s group’s breakout hit ‘Sippin on Some Sizzurp.’
The nickname is also related to Williams as a developmental project, which is key to determining the current Bulls’ ceiling. Like many of King’s nicknames, “Project Pat” has a ring to it and some charm.
It’s also not meant as an insult to the now-21-year-old prospect.
Not everyone is as kind with their nickname distribution. In a recent article from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley, the veteran Bulls beat writer referred to Williams as “Passive Pat.” The moniker is a truthful but still stinging nickname for a player whose lack of aggressiveness could ultimately lead to a low level of achievement for the first attempt at legitimacy from the group Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley assembled.
“Passive Pat” Is Not a Complimentary Nickname For Patrick Williams
“The way this roster is currently constructed, it has its veteran starters in DeMar DeRozan, LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic,” Cowley wrote. “It has All-Star scoring with that same Big Three. It has experience off the bench with new additions in Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic. It has its defensive presence in the backcourt with Lonzo Ball — when healthy — Alex Caruso, and possibly even rookie Dalen Terry. What it needs, however, to make sure that this Bulls team has playoff staying power beyond one round is Williams. Not “Passive Pat,’’ who seemed more interested in scoring his nine points and grabbing his five rebounds while letting the adults sit in the front seat and drive the last two seasons.”
Even if you disagree with his word choice, it is hard to argue with Cowley’s sentiments. During the season, Williams appeared to be satisfied simply floating in the corner or moving the ball on the perimeter as he was perfectly fine passing up open threes and not at all interested in attacking his man off the dribble.
As Cowley mentioned, they need more from Williams if they are to take the next step as a playoff team. Cowley acknowledges Williams’ talent and upside, but like many who are around and following the Bulls, he is asking for more from the Florida State product–and with specifics.
“No, they need the wing stopper, who can put up 18 and nine while unleashing hell on the opposing team’s best forward on the defensive end,” Cowley continued. “They need Williams to play like a No. 4 pick, and sooner rather than later.”
Who Will Back Up Patrick Williams?
We know Williams will start for the Bulls at power forward, but it is unclear who will provide some minutes for head coach Billy Donovan behind him.
The Bulls just brought back Malcolm Hill on a two-way contract. He’s more of a small forward, but Donovan loves the small-ball concepts, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hill get some minutes in that role. That could also mean guys like Derrick Jones Jr. and Javonte Green will again log minutes for the Bulls at the four spot.
It seems less than ideal to go into another season with a size deficiency at the four, but we’re getting pretty close to the start of training camp and preseason, and the Bulls still haven’t pulled the trigger on a signing.
Perhaps something will move on this front in the next couple of weeks. If not, the Bulls might again find themselves at a massive size disadvantage against most opponent’s bench. Early during the 2021-22 season, the Bulls made do with their scrappiness on defense.
Lonzo Ball had a lot to do with their high level of play on the defensive end of the floor. However, the Bulls’ defense declined dramatically once he went down with a knee injury. With Ball set to miss the beginning of the season and with no timetable on his return, the Bulls might be wise to go a little more conventional from a size standpoint.