The Chicago Bulls‘ success in 2021-22 will depend greatly on the maturation of Patrick Williams. On Monday, he announced a crucial decision about his offseason plan.
Per NBC Sports’ K.C. Johnson, Williams has decided to play in summer league later this year.
Williams could be a major focus of the team’s summer league squad, which will likely include Devon Dotson, perhaps Marko Simonovic, and any rookies the team has on the roster after the upcoming draft (Chicago’s first-round pick will go to the Orlando Magic unless it is in the first four selections).
Barring something surprising, Williams should be the focal point of what the Bulls do in summer league unless a decision is made to pace the 19-year-old heading into his second season.
Williams turns 20 on August 26, which is hard to believe and puts into perspective his enormous upside.
He was extremely durable his rookie season playing in all but one of the team’s games. Williams averaged 9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists while shooting 48% from the field, 39% from three-point range, and just under 73% from the free-throw line.
While many wanted to see Williams be more aggressive offensively, similar to the 24-point performance he provided against the Brooklyn Nets in the next-to-last game of the season, it appears as though the young Bull is progressing the way management and the coaches hoped.
According to Vice President of Basketball Operations, Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls asked a lot of their rookie.
Even more will be asked of him in his second season, and he sounds confident.
Williams’ Teammates Praise His Future
Almost to a man, Williams’ teammates have praised the rookie’s play, attitude and his potential. On Monday, veteran and team leader Thaddeus Young said, per 670 The Score’s Cody Westerlund: “When he gets that killer mindset in him, it’s going to be trouble for a lot of people.”
“I don’t think he understands his strength and physicality. He’s going to be a monster.”
Perhaps the next step of the makings of the monster will happen during summer league play.
Williams Likens Himself to Kawhi Leonard
The expectations are always high for a player drafted No. 4 overall, but when the kid is compared to an all-time great like Kawhi Leonard, the hopes are even higher.
Williams has maintained his humility throughout his rookie season, but on Monday, he seemed to embrace the comparisons to Leonard as much as ever.
During his exit media session, Williams talked about guarding Leonard. He said the Los Angeles Clippers star was great at getting to his spots, and that he has the same favorite spots on the floor as the perennial All-Star.
One Bulls noted some key similarities between Leonard’s rookie year and Williams’ first season.
Williams’ overall numbers were superior to what Leonard did as a rookie with the San Antonio Spurs. In Leonard’s first year, he averaged 7.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, he shot 49%, and just under 38% from three-point range and 77% from the free-throw line.
Leonard’s career didn’t really take off until the postseason at the end of his third year in the league. The Bulls are hoping to see Williams hit his stride next year as they will need him if they are going to make the postseason.
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