The No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft showed some real signs of becoming an elite two-way player someday. Now, he just has to embrace that mentality and run with it, according to one veteran teammate.
It was a heart-to-heart that veteran Thad Young had to have with the 19-year-old rookie the last night of the regular season.
Not the first time the Bulls forward had that discussion with Patrick Williams, but the one he was hoping had the most staying power to take into an important summer.
The Bulls beat a resting Bucks team in that finale, and did so while sitting Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.
Williams, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, finished with 11 points.
Not good enough, according to Young.
“I asked him [after the game], ‘Do you want to be great?’ ‘’ Young said. “He said, ‘Yes, I do want to be great.’ He asked, ‘What do I need to do to be great?’ I said in games like this you have Zach and ‘Vuch’ out. So this is your shot. You have to believe that. So when they put a guy like [Bucks point guard] Jeff Teague or any guard on you, I shouldn’t have to say ‘Oh, we’ve got a mismatch.’ You should be calling your own mismatch out and you should be taking advantage of that and being aggressive.
“If you want to be great that’s what the great players do. They impose their will on the game at all points in the game and he has to do that a little bit more than he’s done this season. I understand it’s his first year. but he’s shown us and the Bulls fans so much in this first year of what he can be to the point where his standards should be set even higher next year, and he should want to be a top two or three guy on this team next year.’’
If the Bulls want to reach the postseason next season, Williams needs to be a top three player on this roster. Not the guy that passes up shots far too often and explains it as “playing the right way.’’
The “right way’’ for a man-child that is built like a 6-foot-7 middle linebacker? Continue being that willing defender with the hopes of developing into an elite wing defender, but also become that third scoring threat.
It’s when Williams takes that mentality to the floor that the new Bulls regime can honestly say they hit something special in their first draft.
“I think we have the pieces,’’ Young said, when asked to assess the ceiling of the Bulls next season. “I think we just need Pat to take his game to the next level.’’
Williams will definitely have that chance.
With the league already looking to lighten protocols this offseason, and Williams committed to participate in the August Summer League in Las Vegas, the forward has a coaching staff and teammates willing to play village and raise him.
It will be a two-way street, however.
Taking advice to continue moving toward becoming a two-way player is one thing. Showing it on the court in an aggressive manner is another. One that that soft-spoken Williams has to embrace — out of his comfort zone or not.
“I really think I can be as good as I want to be,’’ Williams said recently. “The size, the strength, the athleticism, I pretty much have it all. For me it’s more mental than anything. I have to learn how to control my mentality and to really dial in 100 percent mentally, and I think that will make me the player that I want to be and that I need to be.’’
And if not? Young and another heart-to-heart will definitely be waiting.