Patrick Williams accepts a new challenge from the Chicago Bulls: ‘You’ve got to feel him on the backboard,’ Billy Donovan says

The Chicago Bulls want more out of Patrick Williams.

That has been a common refrain throughout the power forward’s third season in Chicago. But as Williams continues to build on his scoring and defensive contributions, coach Billy Donovan issued a more focused edict for the 21-year-old’s improvement.

“You’ve got to feel him on the backboard,” Donovan said. “When he gets in and makes those kind of efforts to get on the backboard, he really is an elite rebounder. We need him to do that. He’s a guy that’s got to try to go get double-figure rebounds for us.”

Averaging 4.3 rebounds, Williams ranks fifth on the team behind Nikola Vučević (11.1), backup center Andre Drummond (6.6), forward DeMar DeRozan (5) and guard Zach LaVine (4.6).

Williams had 10 rebounds Monday in a win against the Atlanta Hawks, his first game of the season in double digits. He hopes to keep repeating that statistic in the latter half of the season.

“I think it’s pretty clear that I can rebound the ball,” Williams said. “I’ve got to be more consistent with my rebounds. I definitely put that on myself and accept the challenge.”

For Williams, the issue has never been athletic ability. His 6-foot-7 frame allows him to muscle out larger forwards and centers, particularly after packing on additional muscle in the offseason. And there’s a buoyant quality to the way the forward elevates to retrieve rebounds and finish dunks.

“He’s got great explosiveness off the floor,” Donovan said. “He doesn’t need necessarily a big gather or a long run to jump. He’s really explosive off two feet.”

After a win, talk in the locker room often evolves into playful back-and-forth between players, reporters and Bulls staff. A new question was asked Monday: Could Williams hit his head on the rim? Coby White snuffed out the conversation with immediate indignance.

“Can he hit his head on the rim?” White scoffed. “He can look in the rim.”

So if there isn’t a problem getting up to the basket, what’s keeping Williams from having multiple double-digit rebounding games? He followed his season high Monday with five Tuesday in a road loss to the Indiana Pacers.

One piece of the puzzle is Williams’ positioning. Vučević and Drummond benefit from their role as centers — Vučević as a stretch-five or stretch-four who occasionally exits the paint for 3-pointers, Drummond as a big-bodied enforcer who rarely ventures farther than the midrange — meaning they clean up the majority of the easiest rebounds from near the rim.

By contrast, Williams is all over the court on both ends, guarding the top offensive opponents on the defensive perimeter and ranging from the 3-point arc to the rim on offense. This often places him farther from the basket when shots go up.

But that isn’t an end-all excuse. The Bulls give up the most 3-pointers in the league — which also means a high percentage of defensive rebounds are likely to be ricocheting well outside the restricted area and into Williams’ range.

Williams often emphasizes that rebounding …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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