Patrick Williams pick ultimate test of trust for Chicago Bulls, Fans

Patrick Williams (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Patrick Williams (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

Chicago Bulls fans went into draft night with renewed enthusiasm. On the whole, they left with mixed emotions in the aftermath.

All of the media silence from the Chicago Bulls inner-circle left us to our own devices. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to guess how that would go. Wild speculation had the Bulls doing anything from taking Deni Avdija to trading up for LaMelo Ball or James Wiseman.

In the end, it was 6-foot-8, 225 lb freshman forward Patrick Williams of Florida State that got tapped to be the next Bulls rookie.

He joins last year’s seventh-overall pick fellow North Carolina native Coby White in Chicago.

They, along with Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter give the Bulls a core five that, on paper, should be able to score with the best of them and hold its own defensively. So why is the air of melancholy in #SeeRedNation?

It’s not what most of us wanted. It’s that simple.

We go into every draft with preconceived notions and biases. Personally, it was an affinity for Tyrese Haliburton when they inevitably missed out on Wiseman and Ball (in that order).

When our favorite teams take anyone but our preferred prospect we tend to feel they “blew it”. The fact is drafting isn’t an exact science and far too often those of us on the outside let confirmation bias overtake all of the critical thinking we have done leading up to that point. Guilty as charged, by the way.

Arturas Karnisovas (and Marc Eversley) put on a clinic taking Williams. He averaged 9.2 points, 4.0 rebounds in 29 games for the Seminoles; adding a steal, block, and an assist apiece.

His line displays his versatility but also highlights two valid concerns fans and media may have.

First, Williams starter exactly zero games in his lone season in Tallahassee. That’s an immediate red flag. But no freshman started for the Noles last season. And not only did Williams lead all FSU freshmen in minutes, but he was also fourth on the entire team.

The second issue is his scoring. 9.2 points per game is nothing to write home about. Then again no one on Florida State averaged more than 12.7 points per game, leaving Williams (fourth on the team) just off the lead. This is where folks start pushing his defensive ability (he can capably guard 2-5 and can switch onto point guards as well), and IQ.

"“I pretty much told them I’m here to contribute anyway I can,’’ Williams said. “Whether that’s starting and playing big minutes or coming off the bench and providing a spark. I’m just there to contribute.’’ – via Joe Cowley/Chicago Sun-Times"

They’ll also point out Williams’ age.

He is the youngest American-born player in this draft having just turned 19 in late August. With an emphasis on player development by the new regime, the pick checks that box.

We also got a glimpse into how brass views LaVine, Markkanen, Carter, and White.

If anyone on the current roster is the odd man out it’s Otto Porter Jr., who recently picked up his $28.4 million option. Porter initially played well upon his arrival in the Jabari Parker-Bobby Portis trade but it’s been injuries and inconsistency for most of his Chicago tenure.

Maybe Chicago finds a taker for Porter’s bloated contract. Many note Williams’ NBA readiness. Even if they don’t he only has one year left on his contract and there is no way he returns.

By not drafting a direct replacement to any of the starters (some have argued this is a wake-up call to Markkanen as well), it shows Karnisovas and Eversley believe (for now) they can get what many hoped we’d see last season from this group. An upstart young team with exciting potential.

One sinking sensation that’s been hard to shake: this feels so much like Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace’s selection of Mitchell Trubisky. A reach for a player with little experience that the brain trust likes. The media buzz building in the run-up to their respective drafts. With some other name options still available it’s a hard pill to swallow.

With Avdija, Haliburton, Obi Toppin (actually glad this didn’t happen), or Williams’ own teammate Devin Vassell still on the board, the Bulls went oppo. This seems to fit the “trying to be the smartest guy in the room” vibe given by Karnisova’s football counterpart. Trubisky was benched earlier this season and the Bear have lost four straight games.

Bulls fans have to hope this turns out differently. That’s a tough sell after what this fanbase has gone through, really, since 1998.

We’ve trusted AK and his process (and timeline) up to this point and have generally like the results. Jumping off the bandwagon now would be hasty after the patience shown to this organization for the last two-plus decades.

Next. 3 takeaways from the risky Patrick Williams pick. dark

As Bears fans can attest, blind faith can come back to bite you. Badly. By taking a relatively unknown commodity so high in the draft, the Bulls fans are being put to the ultimate test.