Bulls second-year forward Patrick Williams makes Summer League debut

Because of the coronavirus, there was no NBA Summer League for rookies last offseason. Williams, who has been working on his game since the 2020-21 season ended, made his debut in the loss to the Pelicans with mixed results.

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Bulls forward Patrick Williams gave himself about six days off when the regular season ended.

To him, that was more than enough time for a summer vacation.

Then it was back to the Advocate Center to add more to his game.

The fourth overall pick in the 2020 draft didn’t look like a finished product in his Summer League debut Monday in Las Vegas, but that’s what’s scary about his development.

Still only 19, Williams appeared confident in the Bulls’ 94-77 loss to the Pelicans. He showed better ballhandling and playmaking and, maybe more important, was aggressive finding his shot.

At least in the first half.

The second half was another story, and much more frustrating. Williams became passive and had serious issues with ball security.

He finished with 15 points but on 6-for-20 shooting, including 13 shots in the first half. Williams had only five games last season with at least 13 shots.

He also had 10 rebounds but committed five turnovers as the game got away in the second half.

If there was a knock on Williams as a rookie, it was that he had too much talent to go through so many moments of passive play.

That was ex-Bull Thad Young’s message to Williams at the end of the season. Young told the media of a private discussion he had with Williams in which Young simply asked, “Do you want to be great?’’

“He said, ‘Yes, I do want to be great,’ ” Young said. “He asked, ‘What do I need to do to be great?’ ” 

Young pointed to the regular-season finale in which neither Zach LaVine nor Nikola Vucevic was available and the Bucks switched smaller players onto the 6-8 Williams. But Williams didn’t demand the ball despite the mismatch.

“If you want to be great, that’s what the great players do,’’ Young said. “They impose their will on the game at all points in the game. 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, and he should want to be a top-two or top-three guy on this team next year.’’

He looked very much like the top guy in that first half on both ends of the floor. The Pelicans made some adjustments in the second half, and it’s his job to learn how to adjust to that “on the fly.’’

“Fatigue definitely sets in,’’ Williams said of his performance. “It’s a learning experience, for sure. I’m just excited to go back, watch film and get better.’’

As for the rest of the Bulls who could push for a roster spot, 2020 second-round pick Marko Simonovic had a few moments, displaying an inside physical presence on his way to 13 points and five rebounds. Point guard Devon Dotson led the team with 16 points.

Chicago’s own Ayo Dosunmu, whom the Bulls drafted in the second round last month, struggled, shooting 2-for-8 and scoring six points.

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