Patrick Williams has underperformed expectations since being drafted fourth overall in 2020. Part of the scrutiny comes from seeing All-Star caliber players like Tyrese Haliburton leap years ahead of Williams and being selected eight draft slots after the Bulls pick stings the Windy City knowing what could have been. Haliburton is the best example, but several other players have progressed more than Williams despite being selected later, and simply put, for a top-five pick, Patrick Williams has not lived up to the hype. One six-time All-Star says that the young forward out of Florida State still has the potential to become alike one of the greatest two-way players of this generation and arguably all time.
High Praise From DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan has always been a class act when it comes to being a locker room veteran, supporting the young players, and being a mentor as they navigate their lane in the NBA. Patrick Williams was his latest example, and when asked what the 21-year-old forward is capable of, DeRozan had raving reviews.
“I hate comparing guys to other guys, I seldom do it, but he reminds me of Kawhi Leonard. I know that’s been thrown out there, but his build, the way he moves, everything. Kawhi’s one of the greatest players to play this game, and that’s high praise right there. That’s what I see Pat becoming.”DeMar DeRozan via Chicago Sun-Times
DeRozan didn’t stop with the two-time NBA Champion comparison but went larger than life with his praise for Williams.
“You ever see the ‘Superman’ movies? He’s on Earth, has these great powers but doesn’t know how to hone in on them, maximize them. It’s kind of that thing. That’s where Pat’s at right now.”DeMar DeRozan via Chicago Sun-Times
Crashing Down To Reality
Unfortunately, while player comparisons and future aspirations are all fun and games, Patrick Williams has a long way to go to reach anywhere near Leonard’s skill level, career accomplishments, or championship pedigree.
By year three, Leonard had already made the First Team All-Rookie, and increased his averages by five points, one assist, one rebound, and nearly one block plus steal per game. His shooting percentages also increased across all zones, and he appeared in his first Finals and drew the assignment of LeBron James at arguably his absolute peak. Williams’s resume is quite the opposite. The only above statistics that have improved since his rookie campaign are his points per game by a single point, and his three-point percentage has slightly increased by 2%. A Second Team All-Rookie and one playoff series are all the former Florida State forward has to show for his young career thus far.
Hope On The Horizon
While the box score numbers and career accolades don’t jump off the page yet for the 21-year-old, Bulls fans know that he’s shown a minimal upward trajectory in his game. His defense is menacing, his three-point shooting is among the best on the team, and his sporadic rebounding and attacking the basket have proven that he’s an all-around player who can develop into a star over time. Since Patrick Beverley’s acquisition, Williams has come off the bench for Chicago and enjoyed a spike in efficiency, shooting 63% from the field and over 45% from three-point land in his last five contests.
For Williams, it has always been a two-pronged issue. One is his unwavering confidence because he looks like an entirely different player in attack mode compared to when his foot is off the gas. The other is his usage and opportunity, which head coach Billy Donovan tried to solve with his latest lineup alteration.
Seeing his stats since this switch-up, Donovan might be onto something with his third-year forward. Williams has taken the adjustment in stride and continues to focus on his development over worrying about a starting role.
“It’s hard not to be confident when you have teammates always on your ass about staying aggressive and shooting the ball,”…”I think it just comes down to me, quite honestly. Just my mindset coming into the game, staying aggressive. It’s not going to happen if I don’t make it happen.”Patrick Williams via Chicago Sun-Times
Although only Chicago fans know the name, will the entire league soon have reason to fear the one they call “The Paw” after Kawhi Leonard’s famous “The Klaw”?