Very little fazes Bulls’ Patrick Williams, including ‘King’s’ words

The rookie knows LeBron James had some kind words for him recently, but he just doesn’t know exactly what they were. While Williams appreciated it, he’s not dwelling on it. No wonder the Bulls love his makeup.

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Bulls forward Patrick Williams defends against Lakers forward LeBron James on Jan. 8, 2021, in Los Angeles.

Bulls forward Patrick Williams defends against Lakers forward LeBron James on Jan. 8, 2021, in Los Angeles.

Ashley Landis/AP

LeBron James’ words were appreciated.

But the rookie wasn’t going to dwell on them.

Maybe after the season ends, Bulls forward Patrick Williams will realize the significance of receiving accolades from the ‘‘King.’’ Maybe after his career is over. Heck, maybe never.

As he mentioned Thursday, that’s not what he plays for.

“I still honestly haven’t completely seen what he said,’’ Williams said in a Zoom call with the media, ‘‘and, of course, it’s a blessing, but I’m just out there to play basketball, help my team any way I can with whoever I have to guard.

‘‘I’m not really the person that lets anything said about me influence me, whether it’s good or bad.

‘‘Obviously, you’d rather it be good than bad, but I’m not really the type of person that lets what people say about me affect me and my game.’’

James’ comments came after the Bulls fell to the host Lakers 117-115. Williams spent a good part of his minutes chasing the best player on the planet.

And just in case the fourth overall pick from the 2020 draft actually hasn’t seen James’ comments, here you go:

“I think [Williams] is going to be an exceptional talent,’’ James told reporters. “[He has] long arms. He has Kawhi [Leonard]-type hands that I noticed out on the floor, so I knew I couldn’t play with the ball much.

‘‘You can tell he is just laser-sharp on just trying to get better and better. . . . He stayed sharp on the game plan, and I think he is going to continue to get better and better. He has a great in-between game, but if you notice his hands, like I said, he has Kawhi-type hands that are going to benefit him a lot throughout the course of his career. I think Chicago has a good one.’’

Since being thrust into the starting lineup in the third preseason game, it has been trial by fire for Williams. Considering some of the Hall of Fame-caliber players he has guarded, Williams has surprisingly few burn marks.

Being locked on Giannis Antetokounmpo, James and Leonard in just over a week’s time would be a nightmare for most, but Williams embraced the challenge and learned something from each encounter.

All the while, the Bulls are learning about him.

With no offseason minicamp for rookies or Summer League, coach Billy Donovan has been teaching Williams but also letting the 19-year-old remain comfortable.

Williams falls in love with his midrange game a bit too much at times, and the arc on his shot resembles something from space dropping from the sky, but Donovan doesn’t like to tinker too much.

“Yeah, I mean, it brings rain; there’s no question,’’ Donovan said. “He has shot the ball well. He works at it. You want him to be comfortable. I’ve always felt in dealing with guys’ shots and their shooting, the most important thing for a shooter is to be comfortable.

“And I think when you start taking a guy at 19, taking arc off his shot and changing his form, a lot of times you’ve got to take a lot of steps backward before you can move forward. For us as a staff, we need to get a lot more inventory on him shooting the basketball, certainly at the professional level.

“So I just want him being comfortable and taking the right shot.’’

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