Nearly 20 games into the season, and the Chicago Bulls are still trying to establish an identity.
This past offseason, the Bulls re-signed Zach LaVine on max money, and whether or not Bulls fans want to admit it, he’s not been worth it. LaVine has failed to show up in big moments this year, and the extension is looking like a pain point rather than a necessary deal.
DeMar DeRozan has still been brilliant, for the most part. He’s carried the team. But, beyond DeRozan, the Bulls haven’t had that second guy step up consistently. But, one player is hoping to change that narrative.
Third-year forward Patrick Williams needed to take a big step this year in order to prove he was worth taking at number 4 overall a couple of years ago. To begin the season, he looked lost. However, Williams has slowly been turning a corner.
Patrick Williams sounds confident he can become a star for the Chicago Bulls, who would love to see that happen.
After practice on Sunday, Williams told the media that he likes where he’s at in his development:
"“I told you I was going to figure it out. I think I’m still figuring it out. But I’m 100 percent locked in on being the player that I want to be. I always felt I had what it took to be a really good player in this league. But now I’m starting to feel like I have what it takes to be a star and a superstar in this league. I’m kind of trying to take that role on and build on it day-by-day.”"
This mentality is huge for Williams, because the Bulls need an outspoken, confident star with this type of attitude. Both DeRozan and LaVine aren’t the “rah rah” type of guys. LaVine is the most outspoken of the two, but steps up far less often than he should.
This season, one of the things Williams is doing noticeably different is where he’s taking his shots from — there are a lot more coming from beyond the arc. In fact, over 40 percent of Williams’ shot attempts are coming from three-point range. That number is up from his previous career-high of 28 percent which came last year.
Williams is taking three outside shots per game, on average, and knocking down nearly 46 percent of them. Over his last four games, Williams has scored in double figures each night. He’s averaged 12.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 blocks and 0.75 steals per game in those four contests. He’s shooting 57 percent from the field and has knocked down 10 of 15 from downtown.
Just a couple of nights ago, against the Milwaukee Bucks, Williams held Giannis Antetokounmpo in check for most of the game until he flipped a switch later on. Williams’ defensive presence is something the Bulls are counting on getting better and better. Between his defense and three-point shooting, Williams can be a guy to keep the Bulls competitive.
But, will his ascension continue? Can he keep on improving and taking shots with that confidence? That’s the big question.