Second-guessers may point to Patrick Williams just turning 19 in August, or to the fact he didn’t even start in his lone season for a deep Florida State team.
To those people, selecting him with the fourth overall pick Wednesday night, as the Bulls did in Artūras Karnišovas’ first NBA draft as executive vice president, is a reach.
But if there’s one thing Karnišovas has proved since succeeding John Paxson in April, it’s this: He sticks to his process and tunes out the outside noise.
What Karnišovas, general manager Marc Eversley, vice president of player personnel Pat Connelly, head coach Billy Donovan and the rest of the Bulls’ front office see in Williams is this -- another opportunity to say trust us.
Trust in the player development philosophy we’ve espoused and department we’ve built out since our hires. Trust us that the player who won ACC Sixth Man of the Year honors was widely considered to no longer be a secret if COVID-19 hadn’t shut down conference and NCAA tournaments in March.
Trust us that the player who shot up draft boards more than anyone else during a predraft process unlike anything else will reach his ceiling.
At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds and with a 6-11 wingspan, the Bulls see an NBA-ready body who fits into the philosophy of fielding a roster of athletic, versatile, two-way players. They see Williams, a native of Charlotte who played some point guard in high school, as someone who can play three to four positions offensively and guard four or five defensively.
The Bulls believe Williams can contribute defensively as a rookie and, with his athleticism and toughness, help reshape the roster in the new regime’s shared image. Donovan, with whom Williams talked at length on the phone, is a huge fan.
The Bulls zeroed in on Williams during the predraft process, keeping secret their in-person visit and workout in Los Angeles. But the buzz surrounding Williams being linked to the Bulls intensified in recent days, with NBC Sports Chicago reporting Monday that one rival executive heard they assured him he was their pick at No. 4.
Technically, Williams is listed as a small forward. But in today’s positionless NBA, his ability to guard multiple positions -- a poor man’s Draymond Green? -- afford massive flexibility for Donovan’s defensive schemes. It also allows flexibility for Karnišovas and Eversley’s roster construction moving forward.
This assumes, of course, that Williams will reach his potential. But he certainly sounds like an eager student.
Asked late Wednesday what position he is, Williams said: “Wherever they put me.”
This is the type of no-nonsense approach the Bulls’ new regime wants to flood the roster with -- two-way players who bring physicality. Players that are always working and always moving. One scout from another team who watched Williams play a lot said that his cutting ability in the half court offense stands out.
And now he’s bringing that potential to Chicago. Training camp begins in two weeks, without the benefit of summer league.
“I think everything will translate,” Williams said of his crash course to the NBA. “I’m excited.”