The Chicago Bulls are in a tough stretch, and after pulling off a blockbuster trade, players, coaches, analysts, and fans are looking for answers. No one is exempt, and that includes the star Zach LaVine, the much-maligned restricted free-agent-to-be Lauri Markkanen, the straight-shooting head coach, Billy Donovan, or the 19-year-old, No. 4 overall pick from the 2020 NBA Draft, Patrick Williams.
Most love Williams’ approach, his intensity, and effort on the defensive end, but he’s been all but absent on the offensive end, and NBA Twitter is talking.
Stadium’s Mark Schanowski chimed in with a key take and suggestion for Williams and the Bulls’ offense.
Patrick Williams scoreless tonight with just 3 shots in 26 minutes. Bulls need to get him more involved in the offense with weak-side cuts to the basket when Vucevic or LaVine draw double teams. I know he’s a rookie, but Williams can’t be a spectator on offense.
— Mark Schanowski (@MarkSchanowski) April 12, 2021
NBC Sports’ K.C. Johnson drops more facts:
Patrick Williams is scoreless on just 5 shots over his last 7 quarters.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 13, 2021
670 The Score’s Jeff Mangurten took aim at both Williams and Tomas Satoransky.
Tomas Satoransky didn’t score in Atlanta on Friday. Patrick Williams didn’t score last night in Minnesota.
Tonight they’ve combined their powers and neither scored in the first half against Memphis.
— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) April 13, 2021
Da Windy City Productions hit Williams with this sarcastic tweet after he finally found the scoring column on Monday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Patrick Williams scored 🤩
— DaWindyCity Productions (new account) (@dwcburner) April 13, 2021
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley wrote about how Williams needs to step up.
“Over the last month, Patrick Williams has been asked several times about the proverbial ‘rookie wall,’ Cowley wrote. “The 19-year-old Bulls forward has been very consistent in his reply, swearing that he hasn’t hit it. Maybe he actually feels that way, but if he didn’t hit it, it definitely seems to have hit him. The starter has basically been a non-factor on the offensive end the last three games — all losses — but he’s been trending this direction the entire month.”
Williams is an easy player to love, but something has to give with his offense.
The Facts on Patrick Williams’ Recent Play
During April, Williams is averaging a season-low of 6.6 points per game. He’s also taking a season-low of 5.3 shots per game this month.
On April 11, in a disappointing loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team with the worst record in the NBA, Williams, went scoreless in 26 minutes with just three field-goal attempts.
He followed that up with just two points in another loss on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies on just three shots. In his last three games, Williams averaged a modest three points per game and just over three field-goal attempts.
This decrease in production and opportunities coincide with the arrival of Nikola Vucevic in the trade with the Orlando Magic. Still, as Schanowski pointed out, the Bulls have to find a way to get Williams more involved on offense.
What Does a Successful Stat Line Look Like for Williams at This Point?
There may not be an actual benchmark that we can identify as Williams’ preferred stat line, but we can definitively say that 3 points per game on just three shots isn’t going to cut it.
What’s more important is seeing Williams taking his opportunities to attack the basket; not hesitating to take open three-point shots when the ball finds him on the perimeter, and diving to the basket on cuts when defenses collapse on Vucevic or LaVine. It also wouldn’t hurt to see the Bulls run some action designed to get him the mid-range jumper that he loves to take and has proven to be capable of making consistently.
If those things are in place, the numbers will take care of themselves.