The maturation of forward Patrick Williams continues for the Bulls

DeMar DeRozan wasn’t the only Bull to hit a “milestone” in Monday’s win over the Hawks.

Not to be outdone by DeRozan playing in his 1,000th regular-season game, third-year forward Patrick Williams registered his first double-digit rebound game of the season.

Go ahead and cue that loud underwhelming thud of embarrassment.

With the term milestone being used lightly for Williams’ accomplishment, it shouldn’t have taken Game No. 46 of the season for him to reach the 10-rebound mark. Not at 6-foot-7, 215 pounds, and as explosive as he’s shown he can be around the rim.

Then again, Williams continued moving forward at a pace that many haven’t been real comfortable with since being selected No. 4 overall in the 2020 draft.

What mattered to the Bulls, however, was he was at least moving forward.

“You’ve gotta feel him on the backboard,” coach Billy Donovan said of the expectations for Williams. “He’s got great explosiveness off the floor, and he doesn’t need a big gather or long run to jump. He’s explosive off two feet. When he makes those efforts to get on the backboard, he’s an elite rebounder. And we need him to do that.”

Considering Williams entered Tuesday’s game with the Pacers behind both DeRozan and Zach LaVine in rebounding, sitting fifth at 4.3 per game, yes, they certainly need him to do that.

And the hope is that this time Williams hears the message loud and clear, and puts it into action.

“I agree with him in terms of I need to be more consistent getting rebounds,” Williams said of his coach’s assessment. “I think we’re really good when any of our wings or guards rebound. We can get out [in transition] quicker.

“I definitely put that on myself.”

In case he doesn’t, DeRozan promised he would continue staying in Williams’ ear.

“One of the most versatile players on this team,” DeRozan said of Williams’ talent. “Once he gets comfortable and realizes what he’s doing now it’s going to help us even more.

“I think you all don’t see how much I get on his nerves. I really get on his nerves. Like, really get on his nerves. If he plays bad or doesn’t compete like the way I know he can compete, it’s verbal abuse.”


Donovan continued praising the defensive improvements of backup guard Coby White on Tuesday, and said it started with White’s willingness to play with physicality.

“Overall, he’s done a good job of going vertical, keeping his hands back in a way,” Donovan said. “I just think his physicality has probably been the biggest thing, at the point of screens, getting over screens or under screens, containing the ball. I feel like from last year to this year, he’s made some significant progress.”

Will that be enough for the Bulls to match any possible offers this summer for the soon-to-be restricted free agent? That was for another day. What Donovan cared about was White knowing what he had to work on.

“He’s a bright player,” Donovan said. “[Improved defense] was something we needed from all of our guys, not just Coby. But it was an area that he just knew [he needed to improve].”

Dragic update

Veteran guard Goran Dragic missed the game in Indiana with a non-Covid illness, but the expectations were that he could join the team in Charlotte in time for Thursday’s game against the Hornets.

According to Donovan, Dragic was feeling better, and if he continued on that track would jump a flight to meet the team as early as Wednesday.

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