48.3% FG, 39.1% 3P, 72.8% FT
Summary: Williams started every contest in which he appeared and got valuable experience guarding premier scoring options of every stripe, from *deep breath* Giannis Antetokounmpo to LeBron James to Kawhi Leonard to Devin Booker to Zion Williamson and many more. On low volume, he proved a solid spot-up shooter. His physical tools as a slasher and defender translate to the professional level, even if he’s still learning how to properly use them.
As the second-youngest player in the league and grappling with unprecedented circumstances during his rookie season, Williams showed enough promise to believe. But — as Donovan, his teammates and Williams himself opined throughout the season — he must unlock a more aggressive mentality offensively. Williams ended the season seventh among current Bulls in shot attempts per game (7.4) and his scoring dipped every month from February to April before a modest tick up in nine May contests. While he teased ability to push in transition, pull up from the midrange and handle in pick-and-roll, if there was a statistic that tracked bypassed open 3-point attempts or hesitant closeout attacks, he'd rate near the bottom of the league.
This is all part of the process for a player who's never been a primary scoring option learning to read the game from that lens. The flashes are there (see most recently: his career-high 24 points against the Nets in the second-to-last game of the season), but need to sustain for him to reach what most agree is a lofty ceiling.
"The things that we think Pat does is incredible, and he doesn't know that he's doing incredible stuff out there," Thad Young recently said. "When he gets that killer mindset in him, it's gonna be trouble for a lot of people."
That about sums it up.
Offseason Question: What will a full offseason unlock?
It’s no secret the Bulls are banking on a leap from Williams in the near future. They’re likely without a first-round draft choice this season and in 2023, and remain relatively thin on the wing, centering the 19-year-old as a core piece alongside LaVine and Vučević.
The Bulls are no doubt pleased with the experiences Williams got this season, the feel and maturity he plays with, and his team-first mentality. With a full offseason, structured regimen and Summer League ahead, how he responds heading into next year will be telling.