Leonard Hamilton didn’t hesitate Wednesday night when asked what he would say to those who are surprised Patrick Williams represented the fourth pick in the NBA draft when he didn’t start one game for his Florida State program.
“He finished them,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton obviously knows Williams better than most. But he also knows Billy Donovan, whom he coached against in college before Donovan left Florida for the NBA’s Thunder and now Bulls.
“I don’t think that Patrick could be going to a better situation than a coach who will understand exactly how to communicate to a young guy like Patrick. The Bulls know exactly what they’re getting,” Hamilton said in a phone conversation. “How many guys do you know who are physically ready at 19? You’re getting a guy who will make everyone in Chicago very happy.
“Patrick is a guy who happens to be physically mature, a lot more than most freshman are. He has long arms. He has tremendous athleticism and skill. He probably dribbles with his left hand better than his right even though he’s right-handed. He has big, strong hands. He takes it to the basket strong. He’s a good shot-blocker. And his best basketball is ahead of him.”
Given that Williams turned 19 in August, that’s indisputable. The Bulls believe Williams will be able to contribute, particularly defensively, during his rookie season.
“We play positionless basketball at Florida State. If he rebounds, he’s the point guard. If he doesn’t, he fills the lane,” he said. “He’s a guy who had to play within our system and we play similar to the way the NBA plays -- coming off ball screens and spreading the floor.
“Defensively, we switch 1 through 5 so he won’t have any problem guarding smaller guards or playing physical in the post. He was just starting to shoot the 3-point shot well for us. He’s a great pullup guy and attacks the basket very well.”
As for what Williams is like off the court, Hamilton pointed to a hilarious video that’s available on YouTube in which he leads the Florida State program in Christmas carols.
“He’s a lot of fun to be around, has a little personality,” Hamilton said. “But Patrick is a no-nonsense kind of guy. I wouldn’t say he’s quiet. But he’s more focused. He’s not one of those chatterboxes. He’s very serious in his approach to what he does. He’s a quick learner, takes his game seriously. Hard worker. Gym rat. Great teammate. Very unselfish, humble kid.”
Along those lines, Hamilton pointed to Williams’ coachability and recognition that the Seminoles won by committee as signs of his maturity. And he acted incredulously when asked again about Williams’ reserve status, which netted him the ACC Sixth Man of the Year award.
“I’m in the ACC with all bluebloods. So we have to coin our phrase: We’re not bluebloods, we’re newbloods,” Hamilton said. “We look at things like in the NBA when Red Auerbach won all those (Celtics’) championships. Some of his best players were Sam Jones and John Havlicek and they came off the bench.
“You have a lot of teams in the NBA where their best scorers come off the bench. I have to find a way to be different. That’s our system. We win games by committee. We had nine different guys lead our team in scoring last season. And we won the ACC championship. That’s our style. A lot of times we have players come off the bench play more minutes than the guys who start. That’s old school. The fact he’s No. 4 in the draft I think that speaks that our system is working.
“I’m excited for him and his family. He has done an outstanding job of developing. I’m very proud of him.”