Bulls Embattled Youngster Makes Bold Claim on Role

Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

Getty Patrick Williams #44 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles up the floor.

There aren’t many things that have gone as planned for the Chicago Bulls this season. That’s not to say things haven’t gone well – though at 8-11 that would be hard to argue. But they certainly have not seen their plan of continuity pay off as they’d hoped.

Injuries have played a big part in that with Lonzo Ball out, Zach LaVine managing a knee injury, and both Andre Drummond and Coby White missing multiple games already this season.

They enter their tilt against the Utah Jazz with Alex Caruso listed as “questionable”.

Ahead of that matchup, and a reunion with former Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen who is enjoying a career season for the upstart Jazz, current Bulls forward Patrick Williams had some things to say about his level of play now compared to when the season began and there were calls for him to be benched.

Williams Ready for Superstardom

“I always felt I had what it took to be a really good player in this league,” Williams told NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls insider K.C. Johnson. “But now I’m starting to feel like I have what it takes to be a star and a superstar in this league. I’m kind of trying to take that role on and build on it day-by-day.”

Johnson notes Williams’ improved scoring clip going from 7.1 points to 11.3 points from October to November and sparked in part by improved efficiency from beyond the arc where Williams is now shooting 50%.

Those are both welcomed developments and they haven’t come at the expense of his defense.

Williams, who reminded Johnson that he said he would figure it out, went on to explain what has gone into his progression.

“I think it’s a combination of you put the work in over the summer and your routine throughout every day during the grind of the season,” Williams said of working his way out of his slump. “Obviously, the season goes on and you get the gist of where your shots come from…You get a gist of the way teams guard certain things.”

Those are telling comments from Williams who entered the season with only 88 regular season games and five playoff games of experience to his credit.

His postseason work came as everything around him was in shambles with injuries.

This year, Williams’ slow start was preceded by a preseason in which Bulls head coach Billy Donovan experimented with starting Javonte Green over the former fourth-overall pick in Williams with some success.

But that was the preseason and, though Donovan has been reluctant to close games with Williams, his starting job has never seemed to be in question.

The 6-foot-7 forward is a ways away from being a superstar but feeling like one now can’t hurt.

A Level Playing Field

Williams’ progress was further slowed by the Bulls tweaking their offense this season to more of a read-and-react system meaning quicker and more frequent decisions for everyone. After struggling to find his footing alongside the Bulls Big Three of LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic, that group is still posting a minus-1 net rating, per Cleaning The Glass.

But as Williams points out, everyone is still coming together.

“We knew it was going to take time for everybody to get acclimated to it and be comfortable in it,” Williams admitted. “I think we still have steps to go in that end. But I think everybody is getting more comfortable in their role and what their role is and where their shots are coming from and what type of actions they’re going to be in. It’s a matter of playing more games.”

He can hang his hat on the fact that he’s sporting a better on-off differential than second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu but Williams is thinking a lot higher than that.

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