Bulls' draft decision on Williams was certainly unconventional

  • The Bulls took an unusual path in Wednesday's NBA draft. There are no examples in recent history of a top five pick posting low numbers and never starting a game, like Patrick Williams did at Florida State.

    The Bulls took an unusual path in Wednesday's NBA draft. There are no examples in recent history of a top five pick posting low numbers and never starting a game, like Patrick Williams did at Florida State. Associated press

Updated 11/19/2020 8:04 PM

Maybe it seemed a little odd that the Bulls spent the No. 4 draft pick on a guy most fans had never heard of a week ago.

And it was unusual. Looking back at the last 10 years of the NBA Draft, there are no examples of a player being chosen in the top five with such low production. Patrick Williams averaged 9.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and never started a game during his freshman year at Florida State.


The closest comparison is probably Jaxson Hayes, who averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds during his one year at Texas, then was chosen No. 8 last year. Otto Porter had similar freshman numbers at Georgetown, averaging 9.7 points and starting eight of 33 games. But he returned for his sophomore season before going third in the draft.

You only have to look at high-end Bulls history for proof of unusual paths to stardom. Scottie Pippen had no scholarship offers out of high school and Dennis Rodman didn't even play high school basketball.

Like Pippen and Rodman, Williams had a sudden growth spurt. According to the Charlotte Observer, Williams went from 6-feet as a high school freshman to 6-8 as a junior. So he's one of those guys who had guard skills, then grew.

Maybe Williams would have blown up if he stayed for his sophomore season. Maybe he would have posted more impressive numbers at another school. All that matters is where he goes from here.

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"I didn't agree with the perception people have of him," Bulls head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said. "They thought he was a raw athlete and he wasn't skilled. When I saw his skill level and ballhandling and shooting and ability to pass, I would disagree that he's just a raw athlete. He knows how to play."

This is a pick that made sense for the Bulls. Williams seems to be primarily a small forward and that's a vacant spot for the Bulls' future plans. The current roster could use more athleticism, toughness and strong individual defenders, so Williams has a chance to help right away.

Not sure there's been anyone who made such a late climb up the draft board to No. 4, but teams did have a lot of time to analyze prospects since basketball seasons ended in March.

"I just know my dreams are bigger than draft night," Williams said Wednesday. "I'd rather show you what those dreams are rather than tell you. I'm ready to get to Chicago and go to work on those dreams."


Intriguing Bulls addition

The Bulls took Montenegro native Marko Simonovic with the 44th pick of the second round. He's a 6-foot-11 center who could pass for Luke Kornet's distant, scrawnier cousin. Karnisovas confirmed Simonovic will stay in Europe at least another year.

Kansas point guard Devon Dotson, who reportedly plans to sign with the Bulls as a two-way player, seems to be a more interesting prospect.

Dotson averaged 18.1 points and 4 assists during his sophomore season with the Jayhawks. His .309 percentage from 3-point range might have ruined his chances of getting drafted, but he was a standout at the NBA's virtual draft combine. He posted a 40.5-inch max vertical and 3.02 three-quarter court sprint, both elite numbers.

Dotson lived in Chicago until sixth grade and word is he idolized Derrick Rose. He attended high school in Charlotte, N.C., giving the Bulls a full North Carolina crew along with Coby White and Williams, all just a year apart in age. Williams said he called White every other day for predraft advice.

The ESPN recruit rankings for the Class of 2018 had White No. 23 and Dotson No. 24, so it will be interesting to see if he can get some playing time on the NBA side.

Major moves unlikely

During his post-draft chat, Karnisovas warned everyone not to expect much from the Bulls in free-agency. There aren't many open roster spots and the Bulls won't be anxious to do any long-term deals since they're aiming for cap space in 2021.

Karnisovas suggested 3-point shooting as a need, which is why the Bulls reportedly gave a qualifying offer to Denzel Valentine, but not fellow restricted free agents Kris Dunn and Shaq Harrison. It also could be a matter of Dunn and Harrison looking for longer deals, while Valentine figures he won't do any better than one year at $4.7 million on the open market.

Including Williams, the Bulls have 13 players under contract and if Valentine returns, that would leave just one vacant roster spot. They could easily create another spot by releasing a low-priced player like Kornet or Ryan Arcidiacono, or negotiating a buyout with Cristiano Felicio.

But it always seemed like the Bulls' new regime would use this season to evaluate and save the bigger splashes for next year.

"Obviously, the roster spots are limited, so we're going to be really picky in free agency," Karnisovas said.

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls


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