As the first draft selection by the new front office regime, the former Florida State forward has stayed put through the last two seasons’ trade deadlines but has increasingly seen more scrutiny so far in the 2022-23′ campaign. Having yet to increase his points per game by a single point from his debut in the league to now his third season, he’s feeling the pressure start to build. While last season he missed over 60 games to injury and was given a pass on the lack of improvement, this year there’s been no excuses or setbacks to developing into the top-five pick the Bulls selected a few years ago. After an impressive outing against the Atlanta Hawks last night, Patrick Williams may have cemented his roster spot for the rest of the season.
Direct Impact On Bulls’ Success
There’s no denying that when Williams plays well, the Bulls play well. While scoring is not a direct reflection of better performance, it’s been pretty indicative in his case this season. Holding a 6-1 record when Williams scores 15 or more points, Chicago’s success seems to come with ease when he’s putting the ball in the basket. His teammate and mentor, DeMar DeRozan, echoed that message when asked following the game about Williams’ aggressiveness.
“I think you all don’t see how much I get on his nerves. Like, really get on his nerves. If he plays bad or doesn’t compete like the way I know he can compete, it’s verbal abuse.”DeMar DeRozan via @KCJHoop on Twitter
Head coach Billy Donovan added that Williams needs to keep his fingerprints in the entire game and continue to improve as his young career unravels.
“I feel like he’s gotten better, he’s improving. You got to feel him on the backboard, he’s really explosive and when he makes those kinds of efforts he’s an elite rebounder and we need that.”Billy Donovan via @DarnellMayberry on Twitter
While a 6-for-11 from the field, 18-point, ten-rebound performance doesn’t jump off the page, it marked Williams’ first double-double all season and fourth game of 18 or more this month. Now averaging 13 points, over five rebounds, and 1.6 blocks and steals per game in 2023, he seems to have found a new gear in his professional career, and the Bulls have been better for it.
If Patrick Williams can continue the stellar play, and the Bulls steadily trend upwards as they have the last several weeks, he can be a vital piece of the postseason roster. Fourth on the team in minutes played, and points scored, he’s proven to be a constant in Chicago’s lineup and would leave a gaping hole if he were to be dealt at the deadline.
In his lone postseason series of five games, Williams had two of 20 or more points and two of nine or more rebounds. Excluding an abysmal 0-for-9 performance, he averaged nearly 15 points across the other four games on almost 60% from the field. If he can bring that level of play to this year’s postseason, the Bulls would be a dangerous upset alert to any top-tier Eastern Conference foe.
With DeRozan’s insight nearing the deadline amid trade rumors, the Bulls’ 11-4 record in their last 15 with DeRozan in the lineup, and Williams’ scorching hot January, he will more than likely be staying in the Windy City for the remainder of his third season. After that, the postseason result will almost certainly determine if Chicago decides to carry a similar roster into the 2023-24′ season or if they scrap and rebuild the lineup.