Chicago Bulls: Are we sure Patrick Williams’ ceiling is that high?

Patrick Williams (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick Williams (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls are in a nasty up-and-down rut that has featured multiple 20-plus-point spankings over the last five weeks. Injuries have been the primary excuse for Chicago’s fall from grace and it was believed that once the roster returned to full strength, the slide would come to an end.

But a number of key guys returned over the last few weeks and it sadly didn’t make much of a difference.

Patrick Williams was one player who media and fans believed would make an immediate impact for the Bulls, specifically on defense, upon his return. While his last couple games against the Clippers and Heat were solid, everything before that was … underwhelming.

In his last eight games, Williams has scored 47 points and grabbed 39 rebounds while contributing a -23 +/- in a stretch that saw the Bulls go 4-4.

How high is Patrick Williams’ ceiling for the Chicago Bulls?

A big part of this is the fact that he came off of a long rehab. It was always foolish to believe that a guy who hadn’t played in an NBA game for five months would return without requiring some sort of ramp up. His return, as well as Alex Caruso’s, should’ve always been viewed as a band-aid to Chicago’s defensive cracks.

The real issue that has arisen since his return was present prior to his injury, too. Williams is a player who has the build to be very good in the NBA but doesn’t have the “it” factor to be a star.

Lottery picks are players that develop into stars — at least that’s the projection/hope when drafting them. Williams, along with fellow lottery pick Coby White, were viewed as players that the front office could develop and hand the keys over to in the future.

Williams’ athleticism made people believe he could be a two way star, similar to that of Kawhi Leonard.  The problem is that he isn’t aggressive on the offensive end. There are too many times when Williams is going through the motions on offense.

This could be due to the lack of ball movement since much of the Bulls’ offense without Lonzo Ball has revolved around star scorers DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, both of whom are not great ball-handlers. Williams has certainly carved out a role for himself on offense, but he doesn’t always look to take the layup or mid-range on his cuts.

Instead, he kicks it out for a worse shot. His 3-point shot still hasn’t become consistent and his handles are average at best. Defensively, he clearly gives the team a boost but it won’t matter until the offense can figure out a way to score with the best of them.

A lot of these issues could — and probably likely — be a symptom of not playing for five months.  Most of Williams’ development this season came via film study due to his injury and a short stint with the Windy City Bulls — although he did show the same offensive invisibility in his rookie campaign.

The former No. 4 overall pick is a conundrum in the sense that he has the tools to be very good but is on the path to being nothing more than a solid role player despite high hopes as a lottery pick. Bulls fans are hoping that’s not the case, but his limited impact across the first 84 games of his career might already tell us all we need to know.

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