Patrick Williams: Rookie Year In Review
(via Chicago Bulls/Twitter)

Patrick Williams: Rookie Year In Review

“With the 4th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls select Patrick Williams, Florida State.”With those words, Patrick Williams inherited pressure and expectations that have derailed many promising players in the past. The 2019-20 ACC Sixth Man of the Year was taken before any draft experts projected, but Chicago and new Head Coach Billy Donovan saw a player a rebuilding Bulls team could plug in immediately and build around for the foreseeable future.

So, did he live up to those expectations? Let’s take a look.

Williams wasn’t asked to be THE guy. Donovan and crew already had an established number one option in All-Star Zach LaVine, who averaged 27.4 points per game this season, good for 7th in the League. The Bulls also made a splash at the trade deadline by adding another All-Star– Nikola Vučević from Orlando. This allowed Williams to not put too much pressure on himself to takeover games, and it allowed him to progress at his own pace, a luxury many lottery picks don’t have.

Offense

Williams started all 71 games in which he played, having only been inactive for the January 18 matchup against the Houston Rockets. In those 71 games, he tallied double-digit points 32 times, with his career-high of 24 coming in Chicago’s penultimate contest of the season against the Brooklyn Nets. Williams also registered 3 double-doubles on the season, with his career high in rebounds coming when he grabbed 14 boards against the San Antonio Spurs on March 17.

Defense

In addition to providing steady, reliable productivity on offense, Pat also found himself tasked with defending some of the premier scorers in the NBA when the Bulls played them. From Lebron James to his favorite player, Kawhi Leonard, Williams guarded the best in the world in his first year as a professional. With so much similarity between Williams’ game and that of “The Claw,” it was only natural for Pat to gain a new nickname once in the League– “The Paw.” It’s quite an honor for the rookie to be compared to a player held in such high regard as the 2-time NBA Finals MVP, and goes to show how easy it is to identify Williams’ commitment to playing at a high level on both ends of the floor.

The Bulls ended up missing the postseason, finishing 31-41 and two games back of the last play-in game spot, but there’s certainly reason for optimism in The Windy City, thanks in large part to the 19 year-old’s potential.

As a rookie, Williams averaged 27.9 minutes, 9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game, while shooting the ball 48.3% from the floor, including 39.1% from three, and 72.8% from the free throw line. Compared to his lone season at Florida State, Williams’ numbers were very similar, with his shooting percentages up across the board. Given the increased level of competition at the next level, it’s safe to say Williams had a very successful rookie campaign, and should be a mainstay in the NBA for years to come.

-Dustin

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