The second-year forward has the potential to lift the veterans around him. Will he accept the challenge?
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Sox 11, Twins 1
Brewers at Cubs, PPD
Sox at Twins (7:10, NBCSCH)
Brewers at Cubs* (1:20, 7:10, Marquee)
What can Patrick Williams become?
That's the question that hangs over the Bulls as they head into their revamped era in search of the team's first playoff berth since 2017.
Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan may cash the big paychecks.
Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic may take the praise or blame.
But it's Williams and his potential that can be the Bulls' version of a nitro boost in the Eastern Conference order.
That's the plan anyway and we got a teasing look at the possibility on Monday afternoon when Williams kicked off the Bulls' summer league schedule as the biggest player to watch on the roster.
The soon-to-be sophomore lit up Twitter in the first half as the Bulls ran their offense through him. Williams posted 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting, nine boards and three rebounds against the Pelicans. He drained this 26-foot stepback three and generally looked like the kid who had the Nintendo game two weeks ahead of anyone else.
The second half, though, brought everyone back to the reality that Williams is a guy still two weeks away from his 20th birthday and one without the benefit of a full NBA campaign under his belt.
Williams went 0-for-7 from the field in the second half with three turnovers in the 94-77 loss to a group of New Orleans players who probably won't even make the Pelicans roster.
"The ball has never pretty much been in my hands this much since high school," Williams told reporters in Vegas. "And high school teams don't really make that many adjustments (against you)."
This run as the Bulls' top dog in Vegas is an important one for Williams. The pandemic prevented the NBA from holding its summer league last season and Williams wasn't drafted with the fourth overall pick as the draft's second-youngest player until November.
Unlocking Williams' two-way potential means unlocking his offensive game and so we're going to see more Summer League games like Monday's contest, when he'll get the ball more than anyone could ever want and be told to do something with it.
If last season was all about Williams' flashes of brilliance and fielding compliments from players like LeBron, Giannis and Kawhi for those moments, this next season will be about consistency and becoming a more assertive player in the Bulls rotation.
These things take time, of course, particularly for someone like Williams, who is still building a body that might be capable of NBA stardom.
But it's important for the Bulls' plan that he rises to the challenge, particularly as the Vucevic and DeRozan trades suck up so many future first-round picks and Zach LaVine's impending contract limits the team's financial flexibility in the future.
And it's not as if the Bulls are the only ones who see Williams becoming more. He was part of Team USA Select this summer and could one day be on the Olympic team if he turns into the two-way threat we hope he'll become.
That might be putting a lot on a player who wasn't born until three years after Michael Jordan's shot over Bryon Russell, but at least our expectations seem clear.
Other summer league notes
- Marko Simonovic, last year's second-round pick, made his Bulls debut with 13 points and five rebounds.
- Ayo Dosunmu scored six points on 2-for-8 shooting over 27 minutes.
- The Bulls will play the Spurs at 8 tonight on NBATV.
News and results
Sox 11, Twins 1: The Twin killing continues
Keep the line moving. Eloy Jimenez posted his second straight 2-homer game, Tim Anderson collected his second straight 3-hit outing with a leadoff homer and Lucas Giolito was his old self over eight innings (2H, 1R, 8Ks) as the Sox moved to 67-46.
- Luis Robert went 2-for-5 with an RBI double in his first game back since May 2. The Sox have scored 32 runs over their last four games, so maybe the power is no longer a problem?
- The Sox are now 13-4 against Minnesota this season with two left. With a sweep this week, they'll break their single-season record for wins against one AL Central team. (They've previously recorded 14-win seasons against all four division opponents.)
Next: Dallas Keuchel (7-5, 4.44) vs. Griffin Jax (2-1, 5.63)
Jason Benetti placed on IL (COVID-19): The team announced the Sox broadcaster had a breakthrough infection and his return from Olympics duty will be delayed indefinitely. Benetti tweeted he was experiencing mild symptoms and that "Benetti for Luis Robert is a pretty great trade." ESPN/ACC Network announcer Mike Monaco will pinch hit.
Cubs-Brewers postponed: Four fewer innings of Cubs baseball this season thanks to benevolent Mother Nature. No partial refunds on the today's seven-inning split-bill, thanks to Rob Manfred.
Next: Gm1 — Justin Steele (2-0, 2.05) vs. Freddy Peralta (8-3, 2.21)
Troy Murray announces cancer battle: There aren't many nicer people in Chicago sports than Murray, who probably also doesn't get the credit he deserves for his radio work with the Hawks. Murray, 59, also spent 12 seasons in a Hawks sweater and it goes without saying that every fan of the team is behind him for this one.
- The Bears have the most difficult schedule in the NFL, according to ESPN's Power Index. BearsWire
- The Cubs television ratings are down 28 percent from last season (and probably not getting any better the rest of the year). Bleacher Nation
- You can play on a video game version of the Field of Dreams now. Polygon
- Illinois and Northwestern didn't fare well in the Big Ten quarterback rankings. Athlon Sports
- Great to see my friends at Maplewood get a long feature on Chicago Scene. WGN