Bulls’ Patrick Williams Reveals Key to Recent Turnaround: ‘It’s Been Working’

Coby White, Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

Getty Coby White #0 and Patrick Williams #44 of the Chicago Bulls.

Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams is averaging 13.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals, and 0.9 blocks over the last nine games.

He has been efficient too, with 64% true shooting and a 44.8% three-point clip in that span.

“Not really thinking about anything, really,” Williams said of the uptick in production, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times on December 8. “Just going out and playing hard. You make shots, miss shots, just get back on defense, next-shot mentality. It’s been working for me.’’

The resurgence also happens to coincide with Williams’ return to the starting lineup. He held a spot to open the season. But he lost it due to a lack of production and consistency. Williams has started seven of those games since his return. The last four – all wins – have come without Zach LaVine in the lineup. The streak follows a five-game skid.

Williams has noted his difficulty finding his way alongside the trio of LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic before.

The mental part of the game has long been the fourth-year pro’s biggest obstacle.

But head coach Billy Donovan doesn’t think it’s necessarily been LaVine’s absence that has sparked the Bulls’ turnaround.

“I’ve never heard Coby [White], Patrick, Ayo [Dosunmu], Dalen [Terry] or Julian [Phillips] say, ‘I’m always looking for [LaVine, DeMar DeRozan or Nikola Vucevic]. I feel like I have to throw them the ball,’ ’’ Donovan said, per Cowley. “Maybe when one of those [three] guys is out they feel like, ‘I’ve got to step up more; I’ve got to be more aggressive.’ ’’

Williams, for one, averaged more points with LaVine in this recent stretch than without.

Zach LaVine’s Absence Good for Patrick Williams, Bulls

The Bulls will get more time to see what their potential future looks like without LaVine. The two-time All-Star will miss the next three to four weeks after receiving a PRP injection in his foot to treat inflammation.

That could be good for Williams, who had 20 points in the win over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Bulls have a minus-11.2 net efficiency differential when LaVine shares the floor with DeRozan, White, Williams, and Vucevic, per Cleaning The Glass.

Their differential is plus-16.9 with anyone other than LaVine as the fifth man.

This development could be a boon for Williams if he can keep it up. He was the No. 4 overall pick and the first draft selection of Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas. But his future with the club fell into unexpected jeopardy after the deadline for contract extension came and went without a deal.

Coby White Playing Like an ‘All-Star’

Williams is not the only young Bull thriving of late. White has proven Donovan right in his previous assessment. Donovan said after last season that the fifth-year man was better equipped to be the Bulls’ starting point guard this season than in years past.

White made tremendous strides last season despite having his worst campaign statistically.

He is averaging career-highs with 15.6 points on 57.5% true shooting with 4.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 0.9 steals this season. And, over the last nine games, White is averaging 21.8 points on 68.5% true shooting. He is also knocking down 52.4% of his 9.1 looks from downtown. The outburst led Kendall Gill of “Bulls Postgame Live” to say White was playing like an “All-Star”.

“We saw this happen over the last couple of years, his progression as an elite type of player,” Gill said via NBC Sports Chicago on December 8. “That’s the way that he’s playing right now. And, if our record was better, people would be talking about him for All-Star consideration right now.”

The Bulls have to hope that Williams follows in the footsteps of his fellow “Carolina Boy”, White. White re-signed this offseason on a three-year, $33 million contract.