As far as high first-round draft picks go, Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams has not been the player that makes fans jump out of their seats excited. The Bulls selected him with the fourth overall pick in 2020, and so far, he has not lived up to the top billing.
But after a sluggish start, Williams has slowly been making strides as of late. He has been more aggressive on the offensive end, showing off an array of moves allowing him to create shots for himself. He's also showcasing improved efficiency, especially in their last game against the Celtics. Could this be the start of something special for the young forward?
Improved play of late
Bulls fans were expecting much out of Williams this season, but his progress has been slow. That, coupled with Javonte Green's sizzling performances in the preseason, led to calls to send him to the bench. However, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has stuck by the 21-year-old, and his patience is beginning to pay off.
Williams has been shooting the ball better and making more plays with the ball in his hands of late. He has scored in double-figures in seven of the Bulls' last 10 games, shooting over 50% during that stretch.
It's not just on offense that Williams has been making strides, as he has shown fierce defense, leading the team in total blocks. After a slow start to the season, Williams is now averaging 9.6 points and 3.9 rebounds, along with nearly a steal and a block per game.
Got it going against the Celtics
His recent performance against the reigning Eastern Conference champions, Boston Celtics, may have been his most impressive -- Willaims scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting. The Florida State product also went 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
It wasn't just the numbers that Williams tallied but how he tallied them. He attacked the basket and ensured his defender felt his presence on the court. Boston's All-Star Jayson Tatum was one of Williams' victims on Monday, falling prey to a pretty behind-the-back dribble that allowed the Bulls forward to get off a jumper.
The second one was more crucial as it beat the shot clock and pushed the Bulls' lead to a dozen at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Bulls have been searching for a more consistent effort from Patrick Williams all season. And while his recent performances might be cause for hope, it's still too early to tell whether or not he can sustain this level of play throughout the remainder of the season. If he continues playing as he did against the Celtics, he could be a key piece for the Bulls as they look to make a deep playoff run.