Artūras Karnišovas’ first pick is in.
The Bulls selected Florida State forward Patrick Williams No. 4 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Williams, who stands 6-foot-8 and is the youngest collegiate player in the class, averaged 9.2 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block per game in his freshman season at Florida State, taking home ACC Sixth Man of the Year honors. He projects as a high-motor, defensive-minded forward with plus physical tools and potential as a playmaker and scorer.
“Just being able to show that I can do so many different things on the court,” Williams said at a media session before the draft of how he sold himself to teams. “Guard 1 through 4, play 1 through 4, or 5 at times. Positionless ability and then positionless playmaking, that’s kind of been what we’ve been pushing and that’s kind of what we’ve been showing.”
The selection marks the first significant roster move of the Karnišovas and Marc Eversley-led front office regime. Karnišovas emphasized on lottery night that he would pursue the “best talent available” from their draft position. Evidently, Williams, whose stock has skyrocketed in recent weeks, was the best talent on the Bulls’ board when their time was up.
"It was a great night," Karnišovas said. "Selecting Patrick who is a physical specimen, one of the youngest prospects in the draft class. Defensive versatility is what we liked. Long arms. Big hands. Such an upside and potential. This is what the NBA is today. He can play from 1 through 5. Played point guard in high school. Humble kid that is mature beyond his years.
"The more study you do on Patrick, the more you realize that this is what the NBA is today. We need players in our league that can play multiple positions. He’s an elite athlete. He showed that in college," Karnišovas said. "Athleticism, versatility, multiple positions. His ballhandling is something that’s very underrated. People didn’t see it in college but for three years in high school he played point guard. So I was very impressed."
Rumors billowed throughout draft day and the preceding weeks regarding the Bulls exploring the possibility of trading up or down. But Karnišovas said that such conversations never evolved to the point of being serious.
"At [No. 4 overall] we were really happy in that position because we knew we had a chance to pick Patrick," Karnišovas said. "And we just stayed there and we got our player."
Looking ahead, the Bulls also own the No. 44 pick in the draft. After tendering a qualifying offer to Denzel Valentine -- but not to Kris Dunn or Shaq Harrison -- the team is expected to enter free agency over the salary cap line and with the non-taxpayer mid-level ($9.3 million) and bi-annual ($3.6 million) exceptions at their disposal.
How will Karnišovas and company continue to shape the roster in their image? This quote, from Karnišovas’ post-hiring press conference, offers a clue.
“I like high pace. Moving the ball. We were able to be a very good passing team in Denver. It’s a very entertaining brand of basketball,” Karnišovas said. “I like multi-positional players. I like guys with high basketball IQ that play off each other.
“In the short term what needs to happen is we begin to establish a culture of who we are as a team. And the expectations for winning. Everybody wants to win, we just have to establish how we’re going to do it and what we value.”
Williams fits that bill. Now, the process Karnišovas speaks of will accelerate in earnest with players due back in Chicago by Nov. 30 and training camps opening Dec. 1. The 2020-21 season -- a crucial one for the Bulls -- tips Dec. 22