The Bulls met the Lakers in LA last night for their first matchup of the season. They played tough against the Lakers but came up just short losing 117-115. Chicago’s performance last night gave a lot of fans hope for the future as they hung with the defending champions. It wasn’t only Chicago fans that were impressed by their performance, Lakers star forward Lebron James also appeared to be impressed. Specifically, James was impressed with Bulls rookie forward Patrick Williams.

While this isn’t the first time that someone has compared Williams to Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard it is the first time someone actually playing in the league has said so. Take a listen to Lebron’s entire statement about Patrick Williams, he had a lot of praise to throw his way.

Lebron is in the the debate for greatest basketball player of all time so praise from him is a major compliment. Williams just played in the 10th NBA game of his career and has a lot of room to grow. Getting that praise 10 games into the season is big.

The defensive side of the ball is where he shines

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It’s no surprise to anyone who has watched the Bulls over the years that defense has been a struggle. This team was one of the worst defensive teams last year and desperately needed help. While the roster didn’t change much in the offseason they did pick Patrick Williams with the 4th pick in the draft. This pick had some in the media and Chicago upset. However, ten games in it appears the Bulls knew what they were doing in picking Williams. Patrick’s defense looked like it would translate well to the NBA and so far it has.

Williams has been asked to guard both Lebron James and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo so far this season. He hasn’t backed down from either of those challenges. Teammates have noticed that he isn’t afraid of a challenge when it comes to defending top players.

Zach LaVine brings up a good point here. Often times when you ask a rookie to take on a top player in the league they will try to make light of it. They will try and make it seem like it isn’t going to be as big as it’s going to be by laughing it off. Clearly, Williams knows how serious these tasks are and he wants to get better each time he matches up against an all-star.

Williams is always trying to improve

After last night’s matchup, Williams was asked what the experience of guarding Lebron James was like.

This is a very mature answer from a 19-year-old rookie. He is using this experience to learn more about the game and understand how he needs to be prepared at the start of the next one. This shows that he is focused on improving himself as a defender on the floor. It’s clear that he has the backing from head coach Billy Donovan as he has started in all ten games this season. That will help boost the rookie’s confidence as he goes from game to game. Having that trust from your head coach to continue starting in the NBA is key for developing his game early. Williams will get another chance to improve his defense tomorrow as the Bulls face off against the LA Clippers and Kawhi Leonard.

The offense will come with time

One side of Williams’s game that he’s still working on is the offensive side. Through ten games the rookie is averaging 9.6 PPG, 45 %FG, & 3.6 RPG. Williams has shown that he has good decision making with the ball so far. He just needs to boost his confidence in shooting the ball or taking it to the basket. He has scored in double digits in four games this season so the offensive potential is there. There needs to be more consistency with his offensive performance. Thankfully the Bulls aren’t relying on him to pick up the offensive slack. Everyone needs to be patient with Williams as he improves his offensive skills. Remember he has only played ten NBA games in his entire life.

The next Kawhi Leonard?

Like I said earlier this isn’t the first time Williams has been compared to Kawhi Leonard. Obviously, at this stage, he isn’t to Leonard’s level of productivity. While his defense has been great he’s still got a lot to learn in this league. It’s certainly possible that he could get to the level of Leonard but it’s simply too soon to tell. His hand size is one of the main reasons he is being compared to Leonard because he also has some large hands. While we may not know Williams’s full potential until we get through a few seasons he is still a very exciting player for this Bulls team.

Like Williams said there are still at least 62 games left this season. Let’s give him time to improve his offensive skillset and admire his defense as the season goes on.