Chicago Bulls rookie Patrick Williams is going to have himself a busy offseason. Williams concluded his first season in the NBA averaging 9.2 PPG, 48.3 %FG, 4.6 RPG, & 1.4 APG. While his numbers weren’t major his first season there’s one part of his game that was. The defensive play from Williams set him apart from other rookies. Williams made it his goal to guard anyone on the floor, even if it was the other team’s best player. That mentality along with his strong performance this past season is what landed him on the US Select Men’s basketball team.
Congrats to Patrick Williams on being named to USA Basketball’s 2021 Men’s Select Team! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/b8RBfYbbah
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) July 1, 2021
The US Select team is the team that will be training with the US National team as they prepare for the Olympics. Williams is one of 17 players brought in for the US Select team. We are only one full day into the US practice in Las Vegas and Williams is already making an impression.
Williams is a “physical specimen”
The head coach for the US Select team is none other than Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. This man has coached players like Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, etc. The point here is that he’s been around some great players in his time. Spoelstra was asked about his first impressions of Patrick Williams and he had good things to say.
Here’s US Select Team coach Erik Spoelstra full answer when asked his early impressions of Bulls rookie Patrick Williams.
Called him a “physical specimen” with great positional/scheme versatility. And crucially, he added that Williams’ offensive game has “already really grown.” pic.twitter.com/PrljGOi3Su
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) July 7, 2021
To summarize his statement Spoelstra believes Williams is a strong physical specimen on the court. He believes Williams has the tools to play at the wing while also occupying the 4 spot on the court. Spoelstra applauds his ability to defend virtually anyone on the court. He even mentions that his offensive game has already grown. These are good words to hear from a 2x NBA Champion head coach. From the fan’s perspective, this was a win-win for Williams. He’s continuing to work on his skills while going up against some of the best players the US has to offer. One of those players is Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine.
Bonding time with the rook
One added bonus of Williams participating with the select team is that he gets more time with LaVine. LaVine has gone through the US select team process before. He has also shown tremendous growth every season. Learning from LaVine this summer is another positive for the young forward.
Williams said he and Zach LaVine went to dinner last night and LaVine shared his Select team experiences with him. “He encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone, ask questions and be a sponge,” Williams said. https://t.co/2RFl4zIvnK
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 7, 2021
Being able to practice with LaVine and the Bulls is one thing. But being able to practice with the US national team is something completely different. Williams is up against some of the best players in the league. LaVine knows that and is encouraging Williams to ask questions and learn as much as he possibly can from this experience. Knowing the type of person and player that Williams is I’m sure he will take away some very important learnings from this experience. LaVine has an incredible work ethic and if Williams can take one thing away from this Olympic stint hopefully it’s that. Wiliams can learn so much from this experience and having his teammate along for the ride is an added bonus.
The next Kawhi
While there’s still a lot to be seen from Patrick Williams his ceiling is sky-high. Being able to come into the league and defend at a high level isn’t something that just anyone can do. Williams did just that his rookie year. Did he have some hiccups? Absolutely he did. But he can take those and learn from them. Williams will learn in time how to improve his offensive game and become a prolific scorer. There have been many parallels between Williams and Kawhi Leonard. Funny enough Leonard was Williams’ favorite player growing up.
Patrick Williams said that Kawhi Leonard was his favorite player growing up: "I learned everything from him."
Specifically cited Leonard's mid-post game, the way he organizes and communicates with teammates on the floor and how he uses hands/arms to generate deflections + steals
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) January 11, 2021
Could Williams morph into the same type of player as Leonard? There’s no reason right now to believe that he couldn’t. His defense is already at a high level and his offense can only get better from this point. Let’s see what Williams gets from this summer and how he takes that into next season. There’s a lot of potential there for Williams. He certainly could be the next Kawhi Leonard and training with the US Olympic team will only help him in the long run.