Devin Booker offers high praise for Bulls rookie Patrick Williams

Why Booker praised Williams’ ‘mindset’ after big night originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Thad Young is in his 14th NBA season. He has seen a thing or two.

So when the Bulls’ veteran forward called Patrick Williams’ block of a DeAndre Ayton alley-oop dunk attempt “amazing,” said he was “in awe seeing it in real time” and, for good measure, added it’s one of the best blocks he’s ever seen, it meant something.

Unless you’re Patrick Williams.

“Another instance where I didn’t get into the ball,” Williams harrumphed. “And I don’t remember who stepped up, but they did a really good job of stepping up and had my back. And I just wanted to have their back. And I think Chris Paul did a lob, and I just made a basketball play.

“But then I turned the ball over, so that’s never good. It was just a basketball play. That’s it.”

So you can take your highlight-reel blocked shot and file it in Williams’ do-not-care drawer. To him, not playing physically enough initially and turning the ball over after the spectacular sequence is what stood out.

This is like the time Williams poured cold water all over a softball question about his 52-foot 3-pointer against the Sacramento Kings by saying, “It was a 3. I’ve made 3s before.”

With Zach LaVine missing his first game of the season Wednesday night, Williams drew the difficult task of guarding Devin Booker. The Phoenix Suns’ All-Star guard poured in a season-high 45 points, adding his name to the following list of high-profile defensive assignments for the Bulls’ 19-year-old rookie.

LeBron James. Kawhi Leonard. Giannis Antetokounmpo. Shai-Gilgeous Alexander.

“I like that kid. I like his size. I like his mindset, his mentality,” Booker said after the Suns’ 121-116 victory. “We talked a little bit on the court. I gave him a couple things I’ve seen now that we’ve played them twice and not playing them again. I think he has a bright future.”

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This is not faint praise or a nice parting gift after torching a team for 45 points. Booker echoed positive comments that James and Leonard also dropped on Williams, who, speaking before Booker, unsurprisingly looked inward.

“He’s a tough shot-taker and tough shotmaker, but I think I kind of let him get too comfortable in the first half. And when guys of that caliber get comfortable and start making shots from their spots, it’s tough to stop even when you are playing good defense,” Williams said. “I think in the second half I kind of upped the physicality. So did the rest of the team. But he was already hot. He kept making shots and getting to his spots. I take responsibility of that. That’s on me.”

The Bulls’ defensive issues are widespread. They’re a big reason why they’ve dropped a season-high five straight and seven of eight.

But even on a night when Booker is cooking, Williams’ demeanor is a big reason why there’s confidence he has a chance to be something special. To hear him cite elite two-way players like Leonard and Jimmy Butler as examples to strive for, his mind is in the right place — even if he always isn’t yet.

“Whether it’s a big or a guard, I just want to guard the best player every night,” Williams said. “That’s the kind of guy I want to be in this league.”

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Published: 2021-04-01 05:39:50

Tags: #Devin #Booker #offers #high #praise #Bulls #rookie #Patrick #Williams

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