Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Bulls were pushing to put the ball more in the hands of Rising Stars next season

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The Chicago Bulls need to put the ball more in Patrick Williams’ hands because “they’re probably going to see some more weird, weird stuff.” That was the general assessment of CHGO_Bulls’ Will Gottlieb during the Aug. 5 episode of the “CHGO Bulls Podcast” after busting the forward’s unique floater.

But the sentiment isn’t unusual, as the former Florida State runner-up could be poised for a “big jump in the third year,” says Dime’s Jackson Frank.

That will certainly require some development from Williams in key areas.

However, there is also added pressure on the bulls to unlock him after refusing to put him in a trade for Rudy Gobert. They’ve also left some gaping holes with their off-season moves, arguably making Williams their key starter.

The Bulls’ offseason hasn’t gone as some thought as the team pursues its mission of continuity. Whether it was the right decision or not is up for debate. But it undoubtedly put Williams in the spotlight.

Without major outside additions, the Bulls will have to rely on being healthier and developing internally to improve their one-and-done status in the postseason.

As it stands, Frank writes, they won’t get that from many places outside of Williams.

“This is a good team, albeit one that lacks many future assets to enhance a squad built around players in their prime and/or those with injury woes. Williams and 22-year-old Ayo Dosunmu are currently the only rotation players likely to have significant moves in their upcoming development.”

Frank goes on to explain that Dosunmu showed promise himself. But Williams’ standing as a starter goes well with the talent he’s teased.

“He has drilled 41.3 percent of his 167 triples in the regular season and is particularly proficient at spot-up reps, having buried 41.9 percent of his 148 catch-and-shoot looks. The problem, however, is … In two seasons, he logged 167 pull-up twos and 148 catch-and-shoot threes, according to NBA.com.”

Interestingly, the floater that Gottlieb busted is one of those looks that the cops need more often than a catch-and-shoot-three. Such a small sample size — just 17 games last season and 88 games in his career — is a big part of why patience was called for when it came to Williams.

But Gottlieb believes the Bulls can do more to help him.

“You saw moments last year in Summer League where the Bulls just gave him the ball and let him go to work. Apparently he had 35 in Game 82 of the Timberwolves last year [points]. Even in the playoffs… he played pretty well after having some stinkers to be fair. It’s just very difficult for him to develop in the way I think he needs if he’s going to be in the corner and shooting three-pointers.”

Gottlieb admits the Bulls are developing him for the role alongside DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.

“He has great physical tools. It’s a prototypical 4er. He excelled in creative work and has shown some of it. But… the cops aren’t designing it for that. They evolve it into a 3-and-Q-4. I think for them to take that next step…he really needs to develop as a shot creator.”

There has to be a happy medium, which is a tough one for a player who turns 21 on August 26.

A change in William’s mindset would go a long way.

“The optimal blend of his dribbling drive game with shooting the catch will raise his offensive impact to an enticing level as a connecting add-on option,” says Frank, “with his intersection of size, strength, midrange touch, editing sense and live dribbling.” -Passing chops, he’s quite a menacing player who reads sloped defenses, especially when he gets more assertive.

Frank sums up his stance on Williams with a conditional prediction.

“The carryover from last year’s rotation should be significant. Cohesion and structure are accomplices in the development of any young player. Williams has rarely enjoyed this luxury in the NBA. A season to try, recognize and study the role he is asked for is a welcome experience that he could bring to a leap into third year.”

Williams’ offensive development is crucial for the Bulls to make another move. But his defense isn’t exactly locked down for all his tools.

Bulls legend Scottie Pippen recently told NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer that this team isn’t built for the postseason, in part because they didn’t have anyone to compete with players like Jayson Tatum and former Bulls star Jimmy Butler, now dating Miami could keep up the heat.

That player was supposed to be Williams, who was praised by LeBron James who compared his hands to Kawhi Leonard.

“His offense is intriguing but inconsistent,” Frank writes, continuing, “His defense is promising but not yet fully formed. The gap between these terms is not impossible to bridge.”

Gottlieb says the Bulls’ future “depends on it”.

There has to be a happy medium, which is a tough one for a player who turns 21 on August 26.

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