By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
An unfinished college basketball season in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic left most of the college standouts in the NBA draft, which commenced Wednesday night, very unidentifiable, even to devoted basketball fans.
Maybe knowing that, the Chicago Bulls didn’t hesitate in drafting one of the most distinct unknowns with their first round pick, the No. 4 pick in the draft overall.
Not only is Patrick Williams one of the youngest players in the draft — the second youngest to attend a United States college in this draft — but he didn’t even start at Florida State.
The pick may puzzle many Bulls fans but the team was reported to have targeted him from a while prior to the draft. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago pegged Williams as a favorite of new coach Billy Donovan, and if its worth anything, the Bulls reportedly had competition for the 19-year-old Charlotte native in division rival Detroit, who reportedly was looking to move up to the No. 3 spot to get the purported combo forward.
Williams indeed shot up the draft board in recent days, one of this year’s late risers who likely took advantage of showing his seemingly pliable and coachable personality in personal interviews along with his obvious athleticism in individual workouts while also not having to take the risk of exposing himself in high-stakes efforts like the NCAA tournament or the Chicago draft combine, which couldn’t take place this year.
Still, those who have the most exposure to Williams are anticipating a good career from him. FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton is as respected a coach as there is, he has helped produced much NBA talent when he hasn’t actually coached at the highest level.
Hamilton seemed to have a good hold on what made Williams an x-factor on his ACC champion Seminoles and focused more on allowing his standout freshman to build confidence over the course of games instead of giving him the artificial boost that would have came with starting him from day one. Despite Williams not starting one of the 29 games he played, he played a starter’s minutes, averaging over 22 a game, good for fourth on his team.
Or as Hamilton told K.C. Johnson, Williams didn’t start games, “he finished them.” Being a finisher is not a bad trait at all for a still-young Bulls team that is still learning how to win consistently.
“He got to Florida State’s campus when he was 17 years old. Watched his improvement through the year from game to game; he became more aggressive, took more charge, attacked the basket more, shot the ball better,” said the man who made the final decision on Williams, Arturas Karnisovas.
“To get a player (who) just turned 19 in August to be that level of maturity at this point and a willingness to learn, it’s hard to find. The more we studied Patrick, the more we liked him.”
Simonovic Provides Expected European Flair; Dotson Could Be Next Hometown Star
The other two new potential Bulls both have promise and while it should be a while for the 2nd round pick actually makes an impact in Chicago, the un-drafted Devon Dotson could be seen right away.
Dotson should also be easy for Bulls fans to root for as he was born in Chicago before moving to Charlotte. Not a Bulls fan admittedly, he still loved Derrick Rose he says, and in two years at Kansas, Dotson showed off a play-making ability running the point that could make one think of D-Rose coming out of Memphis in 2008.
Blog-a-Bull lays out Dotson’s Kansas accomplishments in this post announcing his two-way contract with the Bulls, meaning that Dotson will likely start play as a G-Leaguer with the Windy City Bulls, but could very well see time on the top roster if he impresses well in Hoffman Estates.
In a much-predicted “sign and stash” move, Karnisovas selected a likely future interior rotation player in Marko Simonovic, a 21-year-old either just a hair short of 7-foot or right there depending on who you ask.
The Simonovic pick at No. 44 in the second round caused some stress with Bulls fans initially as it was thought he was a more-established 34-year-old player from Serbia with the same name. Fortunately, this Simonovic, who last played for Serbian club Mega Soccerbet (averaging 16.2 points and 7.6 rebounds a game in 21 contests), doesn’t have to be rushed to the States and is expected to spend at least one more year in Europe.
A similar process occurred with Karnisovas’ most distinguished draft pick as general manager in Denver, Nikola Jokić. Just keep that in mind if you want to get your hopes up a little.
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