Patrick Williams is saying all the right things when his sometimes passive offensive game is brought up.
Nothing new considering the second-year Bulls forward has been saying all the right things since the end of last season.
But now it’s time for him to do the right things on the court.
More action, less talk.
With his badly sprained left ankle all but healed, he’ll get that opportunity sooner rather than later, and then maybe this organization can truly see if his trajectory is more on the Kawhi Leonard path or if he’s just a No. 4 overall pick headed for more hype than substance.
“You just gotta know what we’ve got to do — that’s win,’’ Williams said after Wednesday’s practice, when discussing his attitude on the offensive end. “So whatever it takes to win I’m good with it. Every game, every situation is different. It’s going to take certain guys to step up and certain guys to play a role. I’m fine with either one. Winning is the main objective. As long as we win everything is taken care of, everybody is happy, so my job is just to help the team win in any way I can, whether it’s being that scorer, playing defense, or being that role guy.’’
Option one would be preferred, even with veteran scorers like Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic in the starting lineup with Williams, especially because far too often as a rookie it felt like his offensive game was untapped.
Too many teases with the float game and rainbow three-pointer early in first-quarter possessions, only to see the 6-7, 20-year-old man-child seem to crawl in the back seat of the car for the remainder of the game.
When asked about it numerous times, including this offseason when he actually showed some aggressiveness in the Summer League, it was always the same excuse. Excuse time is over, but will Williams finally get that?
Coach Billy Donovan thinks so because he knows Williams has now been through it for a season, and understands the elite conditioning it will take in order to guard the opposition’s best player on one side of the floor, but also be a threat on the other.
“I think that from an offensive standpoint if he’s on the floor with those guys, probably primary options are Vooch, DeMar, Zach. Lonzo [Ball] because he’s the point guard, the ball is going to be in his hands,’’ Donovan said. “I think the way Patrick gets that aggressiveness in the game is kind of what I talked about on media day. He’s so athletic and so explosive and has such a high skill level, none of those things can be utilized to the highest level unless he’s in unbelievable shape and condition.
“I thought last year was a lot for him where he’s trying to run on offense and be aggressive, but he knows he’s coming back the other way and he’s guarding Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. Or he’s going to try to be aggressive on offense and then he’s coming back and guarding Kawhi. . . . That’s a lot just emotionally and physically on a young player. I think going through it will help him. But if he can get where he’s running the floor and he gets it and he’s attacking and he’s not attacking with fatigue — you see these flashes.’’
The good news is Williams will have the opportunity to get that conditioning to where Donovan wants it now that the ankle is healed. He had his first full practice with the team Wednesday, and could see his first preseason action Friday in the finale.
“I’m not really a guy that gets injured, I’m not an injury-prone guy,’’ Williams said. “So missing any games, watching them fight, it never sits well with me.’’