Donovan takes Patrick Williams to experience playoff hoops


Oh, to be a fly on the wall for the in-game conversations between Billy Donovan and Patrick Williams, who attended Sunday's Bucks-Nets playoff game at Fiserv Forum.

"So when I coached Kevin Durant..."

Donovan actually isn't the boastful type, so any such chatter about his shared time with the Nets' superstar from their Oklahoma City Thunder days likely included teaching points.

The larger point is this: The Chicago Bulls have talked about how important an offseason this is for 2020 first-round pick Patrick Williams. Along those lines, Donovan and Williams were spotted in attendance as the Bucks evened the series 2-2 with a home victory on Sunday.

With the Bulls failing to make the play-in tournament, experiencing a playoff game in person isn't a substitute for the experience of playing in one. But it's something.

Williams actually guarded Durant as one of his many challenging defensive assignments in a rookie season that overall included plenty of positives. He only missed one game and started the other 71, averaging 9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 27.9 minutes per game. But everyone from Donovan to Thad Young to Artūras Karnišovas implored Williams to become more aggressive to take the next step.

RELATED: Bulls need Williams to heed Thad Young’s challenge in Year 2

Part of that process will feature Williams attending NBA Summer League in Las Vegas in August. While that isn't atypical for players on the verge of their second season, it isn't a given for such players who started their entire rookie season. But the Bulls hope the experience will place Williams in a more featured offensive role and thus develop confidence in that end.


"We’re very excited for him," Karnišovas said last month about Williams. "He’s been through a ton this year. Learning experience. 19 years old. I don’t think there’s a player on the team that was asked to do more than Patrick. I think he guarded always the best player on the other team. And defensively, he was actually switching and playing different coverages, different positions. When you do pick-and-roll coverages as a primary defender and then as a big defender, there was a lot flying at him. I think he’s a very unique case.

"Usually when you get a young player, you build his arsenal. You add certain things to his skill set. Pat has a lot of those skills. It’s just when he is going to choose to use them. And we saw glimpses in the Brooklyn game lately of what this kid can do. I think the sky is the limit for him. He’s going to have a summer for the first time. He knows again what he needs to work on. I’m looking forward to seeing his growth. He came in a situation where winning is important besides the development piece. All that pressure he was facing this year I think will benefit him."

Williams already has been working out at the Advocate Center, which is why he was in position to accompany Donovan on the short drive to Milwaukee on Sunday. The next step? Playing in the playoff himself.

RELATED: Patrick Williams 'excited' to participate in Summer League 2021

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