CHICAGO (670 The Score) – For most of his three-year NBA career, Bulls forward Patrick Williams has been a poor rebounder.
With that as the context, that’s why Williams’ 10-rebound performance was notable Monday. As the Bulls used a strong fourth quarter to pull away for a 111-110 win against the Hawks at the United Center, the 21-year-old Williams set his season-high in rebounds and drew praise from coach Billy Donovan regarding an area he sorely needs to improve in.
“I thought Patrick was really, really good tonight on the glass,” Donovan said. “He had some really important, timely rebounds both defensively and offensively that were important for us in crucial situations.
“He’s gotten better. He’s improving. You can see growth in him. But that’s what he’s got to do. You’ve got to feel him on the backboard. He’s got great explosiveness off the floor, and he doesn’t need necessarily a big gather or a long run to jump. He’s really explosive off two feet. When he gets in and makes those kind of efforts to get on the backboard, he really is an elite rebounder. And we need him to do that.”
Entering play Monday, Williams had a 12.1 defensive rebounding percentage for the season, which ranked 114th in the NBA among qualifying players, according to Basketball Reference. Given that the 6-foot-7, 215-pound Williams has good athleticism and size, that’s a sorely disappointing mark – and one that more than two dozen guards across the league top.
That 12.1 defensive rebounding percentage has also been worrisome because it’s down from Williams’ marks in his rookie season in 2020-’21 (14.4 percent) and in 2021-’22 (13.8 percent). Williams was averaging 5.1 rebounds per 36 minutes entering Monday, which was also down from the 5.9 figure he posted in that category in each of the past two seasons.
For his part, Williams accepted responsibility for lacking in the rebounding department, where he’s averaging 4.3 per game.
“It’s pretty clear that I can rebound the ball,” Williams said. “I agree with (Donovan) in terms of I’ve got to be more consistent getting rebounds. I think we’re really good when any of our wings or guards rebound. We can get out quicker. So I definitely put that on myself and accept the challenge.”
In Donovan’s mind, the key to Williams unlocking his rebounding potential is simple.
“He’s got to go,” Donovan said. “He’s got to go. He’s got to go hard, and he’s got to go aggressive. Now, sometimes you can be in there defensively on one side of the lane line and the ball goes to the other side and you’re just not going to get it. But I think the more he can go to the glass offensively, when he has opportunities, (he should) do that. But I thought he chased the ball tonight. When the ball in and around his area, he went up and grabbed it. Listen, there’s going to be some nights rebounding-wise where the ball somehow finds you and it’s a little bit easier. But there’s also some ones that you have to go get out of your zone a little bit and chase. I though tonight he chased a lot of those.”
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.