Bulls Insider

Williams returns with confident, aggressive mindset

/ by K.C. Johnson
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Bulls Insider

A light-hearted moment occurred at the tail end of Patrick Williams’ media session on Monday night.

Coby White stood behind the assembled reporters and asked a long-winded question about what Williams credited his confident look to in his first action since Oct. 28 following wrist surgery.

“Um, kind of like I said before you came in here,” a laughing Williams began before crediting the Chicago Bulls’ training, coaching and medical staffs and teammates.

It’s a small thing, to be sure. Especially since it came during a frivolous moment between teammates.

But the been-there, done-that opening to Williams’ answer underscored the confident nature that the second-year forward displayed all night.

From stealing the ball from Thad Young for a breakaway layup to stepping into corner 3-pointers, Williams played with a lack of hesitancy that contrasted sharply with some passive moments from an otherwise impressive rookie season.

Simply put, Williams looked like he belonged.

“Pat was great,” Zach LaVine said. “The way he moves and how physical he is and what he brings to the game for us is big time.”

Williams finished with seven points, two rebounds and that lone steal in just shy of 19 minutes. He exited the game unscathed and said he’ll finish the back-to-back set on Tuesday in Milwaukee.


Williams took eight shots. Most importantly, they were the right shots.

Yes, Williams reiterated his calling card is defense. But for a player who deferred last season at times to the point where he looked passive, his ability to translate what he watched on film during his five-month absence to real-time decisions is important.

“We know in the playoffs, they’re going to trap Zach. They’re going to trap DeMar (DeRozan),” Williams said. “Other guys have to make plays. That was my focus.”

This is music to coach Billy Donovan’s ears.

“I think the hardest thing for a young player is knowing when do I shoot and when do I pass I think he read situations really well.  He took his pull-up when it was there. He took the corner 3 when it was there. He had a chance to rip through and finish that drive,” Donovan said. “That’s the learning curve for a young player.

“The fact that he had last year to play a lot and then this year he had to watch a lot of film, I’m hoping in some way this stuff is connecting for him. Last year, there was tons of opportunity for him to be more aggressive. He’s first and foremost and unselfish guy. But he has to understand we need him to do some of those things. And he’s understanding his spots a little better.”

Donovan said he could tell from conversations he had with Williams during his rehabilitation process that he was picking up nuance and tendencies from film study that previously hadn’t registered. And while Williams knows his main role remains defense, the fact that he built on the hours of solo shooting he performed during long hours in the return-to-play preparation is an encouraging sign.

“I’m not going to say they’re worn down. But having a fresh body come in who has been out for five months, I think it’s good for me to bring energy, bring a new vibe to the team,” Williams said of his teammates. “As the season goes on and I get more comfortable, we can talk about roles. But for now, just bring as much energy as possible.”

Williams likened how his wrist felt to returning from a sprained ankle. It didn’t hurt, but it felt a little stiff and tight.

Williams also burned through his initial wind and adrenalin in his first rotational stint quickly. But he settled into a second wind and said he felt great overall physically.

As for mentally, Williams again flashed confidence with his answer.

“It was amazing.  Can’t really put it into words, honestly,” he said. “Just having something taken from you for so long, something that you love and finally being able to get it back and enjoy the game, there’s really nothing like it.”

It showed.

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