Patrick Williams

Education continues for Bulls' Patrick Williams

Fourth-year forward's role will increase with Zach LaVine out with sprained ankle

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The teaching moments keep coming for Patrick Williams.

On the first possession of the Chicago Bulls’ blowout victory over the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, the fourth-year forward passed up an open 3-pointer to try to attack the rim. Instead, the defense collapsed, forcing Williams to settle for a midrange jumper that he missed.

Just 4 minutes, 9 seconds after tipoff, coach Billy Donovan pulled Williams.

“I just thought the first stint he was in there that there are opportunities that guys have to take advantage of closeouts and rotations. And I thought there were a couple possessions there where he really had an opportunity to shoot it, drive it or make a play,” Donovan said. “We talk about being aggressive. It’s in those moments. It’s when there’s a shifted floor and bodies are off you and the ball is coming to you and you’re in a closeout situation where you shoot it or attack. I thought there a couple possessions there that he was a little bit passive on. Talked to him about it and then I thought he was a little better as the game went on.”

Williams, who finished with 15 points, five rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes, said his teammates had already told him in live action before Donovan pulled him.

“I think it’s all with reps, game reps. I felt it. So he didn’t need to tell me that. A lot of my teammates were already on me about shooting the ball,” Williams said. “Just slowing down on those reads and those closeouts, it’s all with reps. Having those dialogues, whether it’s him taking me out or guys getting on me, that’s what development and learning is all about. It’s not always going to be pretty. But now I can go back and work.”

This why Donovan said he’s not concerned, even if this is Williams’ fourth year.

“A lot of times for players those things happen very quickly. You can get caught where, ‘I’m getting ready to shoot it. And then I don’t have the shot.’ Then you’ve lost the advantage. I think guys grow and develop at different rates. It’s not like he doesn’t want to do it. I just think he has to be more decisive when the ball comes,” Donovan said. “There are times you see him and he puts the ball down and he gets into that midrange shot because he’s trying to get to the rim. But maybe what was open was taking the 3. It’s not like I don’t see him doing it. He’s just got to make those reads. I think he's more than capable.”

With Zach LaVine sidelined with a sprained right ankle, Williams returned to the starting lineup. He took 11 shots but finished minus-7, the only Bull not on the positive side of the ledger.

With Williams, it always comes down to aggressiveness. And with LaVine out, he knows he will get more opportunity.

“I think for me it’s just being involved in a lot more actions,” he said.

Williams has been battling a persistent sore right ankle for weeks. He has played through it more often than not. Asked how it feels, Williams smiled.

“We won. As long as we keep winning, I’ll be good,” he said. “Winning cures all.

“January and the days before the All-Star break are kind of the dog days of the season. Nobody feels 100 percent. Everybody is kind of dealing with something. It’s all about your routine and how you approach it. My mindset is always to play.”

Williams won’t use the ankle as any excuse. In fact, he won’t use anything as an excuse. He’ll look inward as his education continues.

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