Bulls 2020 first-round pick Patrick Williams told reporters on Wednesday night that he's ready to be a part of something special in Chicago
So what does Patrick Williams mean to the Bulls?
Is it goodbye to Lauri Markkanen? Or is Williams a small forward to support and eventually replace Otto Porter Jr.? Is the second youngest player in the 2020 NBA Draft the start of another rebuilding project? Or the defense, physical play and aggression the Bulls have been lacking in support of their starters?
"They want me to be what I am, which is versatile," Williams, whom the Bulls selected with the No. 4 overall draft pick, told Chicago media by Zoom conference after the first round. "They're going put me in position to be successful. They're going to allow me to guard one through four, one through five possibly. The opportunity is mine. The opportunity is there and I am going to embrace it and make the most of it.
College Highlights of Bulls first round pick Patrick Williams
"I've just been putting my head down and getting in the gym, focusing each and every day," Williams said. "Eventually everything ended up as it's supposed to. Just focus on the hard work, make sure I'm in the gym and make sure whatever team takes me I'm ready. I pretty much told them (Bulls management) I'm there to contribute. Pretty much the same mindset I had at Florida State. Coming in to contribute any way I can whether that's starting and playing big minutes or coming off the bench or handing out Gatorade. I'm just there to contribute and give it my all."
Williams, wearing a light suit over a dark crew neck shirt, was somewhat more comfortable and conversational in the first post draft interview than some of the recent young Bulls draft picks. The highest Bulls draft pick since Derrick Rose in 2008 is a Charlotte, N.C. native and close friend of Bulls guard Coby White, whom Williams said helped guide him through the pre draft process.
"Coby White is from NC. I've definitely talked to Coby a lot, not per se about Chicago, but just about the process, the pre-draft process, what to expect from the NBA," Williams said. "We've talked I would say every other day since the day I declared for the draft. He's been a big help. Just being a rookie last year, just talking about the things that he went through, the things that he learned, and just when I get there I'm ready to learn more from him and learn more from the other guys, from the coaching staff. I've been playing against him or with him pretty much every summer. Kind of crazy I get drafted by the Bulls. That's my guy for sure."
Coby White welcomes Patrick Williams to Chicago.
It was hardly sure that Williams would be selected by the Bulls or in the top five of the draft. He was the fastest riser during the draft process, going from barely a first round selection coming into the August lottery to a certain top 10 pick by last week. His defensive aggression, athletic ability and various comparisons to a young Kawhi Leonard were intriguing to NBA executives. He seems like a power forward at 6-8 and 225 with broad shoulders that should result in continued growth. His offensive game remains mid range and closer to the basket with his defense perhaps versatile enough to defend just about every position.
The Bulls have something of a glut at power forward with Markkanen and perhaps even Wendell Carter Jr. Chandler Hutchison is behind Porter for now at small forward. But a new management and new coaching staff portends perhaps many changes to come. Williams is the first. He came off the bench his one season at Florida State, but he sees that as a positive.
"It just taught me how to play a part," Williams said. ‘Whatever your part is whether it's coming off the bench or starting and playing big minutes it taught me to do my part and do it well. I started with maybe 12 minutes. I think you see I did well with that 12 minutes and toward the end of the season it increased and I embraced that role. In the NBA, it's all about roles. Everyone can't be a Lebron James from Day 1 or Michael Jordan from Day 1. You have to come in and embrace your role and do your role and then you are trusted with more."
Good Jordan reference. May have to mention we don't talk about LeBron.
Williams seems mature and well grounded for his age and lack of experience.
"They're definitely trending in the right direction," Williams said about the Bulls. "The guys they have coming back, for sure, the guys they already have there. They can only get better, for sure. Coming there I just want to do my part to help the franchise get better and reach our goals as a whole. Wherever they put me, honestly (is my position). There's not really one I'm better at than others. They all kind of do similar things. Wherever they put me, I'll be good at.
"(At Florida State) they let me do whatever I could," Williams said. "They kind of saw what I could do and what I couldn't do. And then the season came around and they let me do whatever I could, which was multiple things on the court, coming off ball screens, setting ball screens, that type of thing. Having the ball in my hands; also playing without the ball.
Patrick Williams is listed at 6'8", 225 pounds.
"I'll be ready whenever my name is called," Williams promised. "Whatever opportunity I get, take advantage of it. This year for me and the rest of the rookies is going to be about asking questions, who learns the best and who has a good vet who takes them under their wing and kind of grooms them. You've got to learn stuff from listening. When I get to Chicago I just want to be around the guys and learn as much as a I can.
"Chicago definitely has something special being built there with the new front office and then the guys they have coming back," Williams said. "It's definitely something special to be built there and I'm just excited to learn from them, Coby White, Zach LaVine, Denzel Valentine, all the guys. I just know my dreams are bigger than draft night. I think I'd rather show what those dreams are rather than tell you. I'm just ready to get to Chicago and get to work on those dreams."