Bulls Prospect Patrick Williams Gets Candid About Season

Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

Getty Patrick Williams #44 of the Chicago Bulls.

Just ask Chicago Bulls’ former fourth-overall pick Patrick Williams if he is satisfied with his performance this past season and you might be surprised.

“Hell nah,” Williams told Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Williams saw things much like many of his detractors – built up over the offseason as the “key” to unlocking this group’s true ceiling, perhaps the weight of the expectations became too much for a player who turned 21 during the regular season. He averaged a career-high 10.2 points per game this past season. But he coupled that with a step back in his assist numbers and posted a career-low 4.0 rebounds leading to some urging from his head coach to call on him for more activity.

“It’s gotten better but we need it to be more consistent,” head coach Billy Donovan said, per Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune.“When he does go, he’s an elite rebounder and he’s got great strength. He’s a guy in very, very tight spaces that gets off the floor and can really rebound.”

To Donovan’s underlying point, the flashes of Williams’ talent continue to tantalize, showing many of the traits one hopes to see in a former top-5 selection.

But even he admits that there needs to be a steadier flow of those types of performances going forward.

Patrick Williams ‘Wanted to be More Consistent’

“I wanted to be more consistent,” he said. “I wanted to play-make a little bit more; show that I can do that. Obviously, every player wants to be able to make plays down the stretch and be able to do that down the stretch. I think I have the skill to do it. I think the opportunity was there. I don’t think I grasped it. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t.”

Williams’ playmaking was supposed to be a featured aspect of a “tweaked” Bulls’ offense.

However, he lost his starting job – thanks in no small part to that rebounding aspect – making it difficult to put the ball in his hands and expect to learn much. Even so, the Bulls are running out of time to keep tinkering with this experiment.

Williams is rookie extension eligible this offseason and, even though it is unlikely that the Bulls lock him up at this point, it does highlight just how little runway they have to figure Williams out.

Bulls Urged to Make Room for Patrick Williams

“It…seems apparent that Williams isn’t a power forward, that the Bulls badly need one, and the small forward spot has to be opened next season for Williams, who has become maybe the team’s best spot-up shooter and shown possibilities for making plays off the dribble from the wing,” argued Sam Smith of NBA.com. “He’s been toggled between positions, so you can see he’s been confused what to be. I think now he knows who he is and what he should be, and with a summer to concentrate on that he could be much improved next season. It’s up to the Bulls to clear the position for him.”

Smith’s suggestion was ultimately that the Bulls need to move DeMar DeRozan to clear that path.

But DeRozan took Williams under his wing last offseason and has extended the invitation (more like a demand this time) once again. And it sounds like, even if we didn’t see the results on the floor, the lessons learned in last offseason’s “summer from hell” stuck with the youngster.

“I felt a lot more comfortable, a lot more aggressive but (still) not who I want to be,” Williams said, per Mayberry. “That’s pretty much what it comes down to. You’ve got to put the work in to be who you want to be in this league. Obviously, at 21 you’re not going to be the person you’re going to be obviously when you’re 31.”

Williams summed up his previous training session as just that – teaching him to get into a routine that will allow him to put in the necessary work it takes to reach his goals. Perhaps the Bulls should be wary of potentially moving his mentor too soon.

“There’s more work to be done,”  Williams said of his developing game.