Veteran forward Thad Young had to have a heart-to-heart with the 19-year-old rookie on the last night of the regular season.
It wasn’t the first time he had that discussion with Patrick Williams, but he was hoping the message would carry over into an important summer.
The Bulls beat a resting Bucks team in that finale without Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. Williams, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 draft, had 11 points.
Not good enough, Young said.
“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 that in games like this, you have Zach and ‘Vooch’ 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. He should want to be a top-two or top-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, not the guy who passes up shots far too often and justifies the passivity as “playing the right way.’’
The “right way’’ for a man-child who’s built like a 6-7 middle linebacker?
Williams has to continue being that willing defender with the hope of developing into an elite wing defender, but he also needs to become that third scoring threat for the Bulls.
When Williams takes that mentality to the court, then the Bulls’ front office will be able to say it hit on something special in its first draft.
“I think we have the pieces [for next season],’’ Young said. “I think we just need Pat to take his game to the next level.’’
Williams will have that chance.
With the league already looking to lighten protocols this offseason, and Williams committed to participating in the Summer League in Las Vegas in August, he’ll have a coaching staff and teammates to aid him in his development.
It will be a two-way street, however.
Receiving advice on how to become a two-way player is one thing; showing it on the court in an aggressive manner is another. Out of his comfort zone or not, the soft-spoken Williams has to take it upon himself.
“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% 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 will be waiting for him with another heart-to-heart.