Why Young isn't worried about Williams hitting 'wall'


"S--t happens."

After logging a season low 10 minutes in the Bulls' 119-103 loss to the Boston Celtics Monday night -- three in the second half -- Patrick Williams received those words of advice from Thad Young, which Young conveyed in comments to reporters.

"I told him, I said, 'Look, s--t happens," Young said. "You have to go out there, you've got to play. You're not going to be perfect. Nobody's perfect. I'm not perfect, Zach (LaVine)'s not perfect. We're all not perfect. So don't try to be perfect."

Monday's 4-point, 2 turnover, 1-for-4 shooting effort marked another down performance for Williams, who posted a similar line in Friday's win over the Hornets (4 points, 2-for-7) and endured a tough first half Saturday against the Lakers (2 points, 1-for-7). Blips in what has been an impressive rookie campaign to this point, forged on the back of just a few weeks of transition time between Williams being drafted, sprinting through an abridged training camp and preseason, and starting every game he's appeared in for the Bulls.

"Generally, when guys are going through a lot, you see a high level of inconsistency. And there's gonna be some peaks and valleys with Patrick. There's gonna be some ups and downs," said head coach Billy Donovan. "It's part of being a rookie."

Especially one in Williams who has been wholly baptized by fire. Already, roughly one month into his first year, he's embraced a litany all-time defensive challenges, by all accounts preparing for and absorbing lessons from each in a manner which belies his age.


"It's not every day where you start off and you have the matchups and the assignments that he's had. We're talking about -- what is he 19? A 19-year-old kid coming in and having to match up with LeBron (James) and having to match up with Kawhi (Leonard) and Paul George and guys like that. That's tough," Young said. "It may be wearing on him a little bit, but I think he's built for it. I think he's made for it."

Not to mention Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who Donovan also cited. Still, the Bulls coach guessed that the rigors of the NBA calendar may be beginning to catch up to Williams.

"Scouting is totally different to him. In college, you have two or three days not prepare. Now you got a shootaround and a film session before the game, and I think it goes really fast and I think it can be overwhelming," Donovan said. "Now he has not told me he's overwhelmed. I'm guessing that, because I think most rookies get overwhelmed. And this is 17 or 18 games coming quickly, and I think maybe, I don't know, coming up here at the end of this month, we have 17 games in 31 days, so it's not getting any easier."

Does that mean the Bulls are concerned? Far from it.

In Young's eyes, Williams' reaction after the Celtics loss says all you need to know about his resolve.

"He was just in the locker room and he was a little upset with himself about his play today," Young said. "As a veteran -- he sits next to me -- I have to keep him together. I have to keep him brought up to speed. I have to keep him going each and every day because I was in that situation years ago when I was a 19-year-old, where I had to come out and have some tough matchups and guard some tough guys and I was down on myself because guys were going out there and they were scoring and I had to sit down and watch, because I didn't understand.

"He's willing to do the work. He's going to continue to do the work, and if not, I'm going to make sure his ass do the work. So the biggest thing about him is he wants to get better. He wants it so bad to the point where he's upset. And if you had a guy like that and he wasn't upset, then that's when you worry. He's upset, he wants to get better and he's coming into work."

Donovan stressed continuing to keep his nutrition and sleep schedule tight, but emphasized that Williams has played well and checked every box to this point. He's just aware of the pitfalls some first-years can find themselves in.

"I'm not saying any of those things are bad for Patrick, but everybody knows these rookies get to a place where they hit a wall. And it gets overwhelming," he said. "tonight wasn't his night. He didn't play maybe as well as he had in the past, and our team wasn't playing well. And I tried maybe to go to the bench just to try to get a little bit of a spark."


So, for Williams, it's on to the next. Young won't let him forget that.

"Just try to go out there and just do the things that you do and then get to the next play. If you have a turnover, move to the next play. Get the ball back for us on the other end," Young said in closing. "Once he understands that he's not perfect and he's a human being and he has to just go out there and play through his mistakes, then he's going to be fine."

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