The Chicago Bulls drafted forward Patrick Williams with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. In a draft considered to fall off after the top three players, the Bulls decided Williams was their best bet at number four. The thinking was centered around his long-term potential. The Bulls took a player who didn’t start in college but was one of the youngest players in the draft. He had a smooth jumper, an NBA-ready body, and solid ball-handling skills. Still, fans worried about taking him instead of trading down and selecting the likes of Deni Avdija or Tyrese Haliburton.
During his rookie season, Williams played in 71 of 72 games and started every game he played. The fourth overall pick put up 9.2 points per game, which ranked 12th among rookies who played over 20 games. He grabbed 327 total rebounds — good for fourth among rookies. The rookie also ranked sixth in overall steals (64) and third in total blocks (46). Williams generated these numbers while shooting a very efficient 48.3% and 39.1% from deep.
While several of these figures are solid, the thought is the Bulls will need much more out of Williams in his second season. With that being said, here are three predictions for Patrick Williams’s second season.
Prediction One: Williams Averages 14 PPG or More
Patrick Williams averaged 9.2 PPG this past season. He did so while only taking 7.4 shots per game and 1.8 free throws per game. Throughout the season, a consistent criticism of Williams was that he was too passive on offense. Often, Williams would pass out of open shots or hang out on the perimeter instead of taking the ball to the basket.
Still, there were some excellent offensive showings for Williams. In a loss to the Brooklyn Nets on May 15, Williams posted a career-high 24 points on 9-14 shooting. He also took four threes and attempted four free throws, showing more aggressive offensive tendencies.
Of course, Williams also had some weak offensive showings. He logged six points or fewer 26 times in 2020-21. In his second season, though, Williams should have more confidence. Additionally, his usage percentage should increase from 14.9%. The potential is there. Williams has the stuff; he just needs to be aggressive.
Prediction Two: Williams Averages At Least 1 Block and 1 Steal Per Game
Patrick Williams predominantly guarded the opposing team’s best player throughout the season. At times, he struggled significantly with this task. Still, the rookie held his own and posted 2.2 Defensive Win Shares, which led all rookies. That figure was also was good for the second-best mark on the Bulls behind Nikola Vučević. On the season, Williams averaged 0.9 steals per game and 0.6 blocks per game.
It seems likely that Williams’s steals per game will increase enough to easily eclipse the 1.0 mark. The trickier task will be averaging over 1.0 blocks per game. Only seven players were in the 1 SPG/1 BPG club for the 2020-21 season. With highlights like the one below, it is not far-fetched that Williams will join them next season.
Prediction Three: Williams Shoots 48/40/80
It isn’t quite the 50/40/90 club, but Williams is at 48 percent from the field and close to 40 percent from deep as it is. Williams will surely be putting work in this offseason with specific areas of improvement in mind. He’s slated to participate in the Summer League, and he has always been a player who spends a lot of time in the gym.
If Williams employs a more aggressive offensive approach, it is possible his efficiency does not also improve, but his free throw percentage should improve from the 72.8% mark in 2020-21. Furthermore, growing confidence with a full NBA season under his belt could help his three-point percentage tick up as well.
Williams’s Sophomore Season
There’s a lot of time before the 2021-22 NBA season gets started. We’ll hear more about how Patrick Williams’s offseason is going along the way. If these predictions happen to come true, 14 PPG and exceptional defense while staying efficient sounds like a great deal.
It may not be the same offensive firepower the Timberwolves get from Anthony Edwards or the Hornets get from LaMelo Ball, but pair Williams’s potential production with a full season of Zach LaVine and Nikola Vučević, and the Bulls have the makings of something promising.