Tag Archives: NBA Free Agency

2020-21 NBA Profile: Patrick Williams

Hello basketball fans, are you ready for Patrick Williams? The NBA season is due to tip off in less than 20 days. Just a few short days ago the NBA draft was completed and the top of the draft went as projected but then at number four things start to get haywire as no one is really sure what the Bulls are going to do (for once). I also plan on dropping a video breaking down this young man as well so let’s stop wasting time and jump into it.

Patrick Williams 2020-21 NBA Profile

The Bulls Get Their Man

Patrick Williams was the Chicago Bulls guy with the fourth-overall pick in the draft. This year’s pick is the highest pick the Bulls have had since they drafted a young man by the name of Derrick Rose all the way back in 2008. This year is also the first time the Bulls were drafting without either Jerry Krause or John Paxson making the big decision. Question for the reader? Do you know who the last player the Bulls drafted with their top pick before Kraus took over in the mid-80s?

Now let’s talk about Williams. There were definitely some other big named prospects on the board that may have helped your heart rest at ease. The Bulls could have nabbed big man Obi Toppin, Deni Avdija. If you are fond listener of the Around the Clockers podcast you will frequently hear this writer adamently push for Avdija. That tune has changed to all in on this young man. Now before you fall in love, let’s set reasonable expectations. Because the only way you become dissappointed is by setting ridiculous expectations.

What Not to Expect

When people see the number Four pick they tend to add a bunch of unnecessary expectations around them like they need to be the team’s superstar or need to immediately impact the team. Well, I do not expect Patrick Williams to impact this team at least on the offensive end. He is a 19-year-old that is still learning about his body and how it works. He truly has not scratched the surface of his physical gifts yet. I expect Williams to make an impact defensively because no one on this Bulls team plays a lick of defense.

Williams can immediately step in and start guarding the best wings and forwards this league has to offer. Not many people come into the league at 6-foot-8 and 225 lbs. That is an NBA-ready body. Williams has all of the physical tools to become an immediate impact defender on this team. When I watched his college tape, he reminded me of those Bulls teams from earlier this decade. You know, when we actually hustled and played defense? You miss those days? Because I do.

Williams also comes in with the potential to develop his offensive game as well. Even though he was the 6th man on his college team he shot 32 percent from the three-point range and averaged 1 Block and 1 Steal a game. Now I know the three-point percentage is not where we want it to be but if you take a look at his free throw percentage that is a much more telling sign of learning to be able to shoot. Remember both Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz shot over 40 percent from deep in college but both of them shot in the mid 60 percentile from the free throw.

Williams is a passive style of player. He wants to help you win at all costs, which was his case at Florida State. Williams was passive towards his senior-led teammates at Florida State even his draft counterpart Devin Vassell a sophomore who went to San Antonio. Now remember those expectations I set, I understand there are some alarming red flags, but most prospects not named LeBron James have some form of a flaw, but let’s dive right into all of the positives about this young player.

The Positives:

Like I stated before, he is 6-foot-8 and 225 lbs. That is something you do not teach. You also cannot teach his very good team defensive instincts and on-ball defensive ability. He can switch and guard pretty much any position with his explosive athleticism. What I also forgot to mention was that he has a 7-foot wingspan allowing him to blow up passing lanes and quick reflex blocks with ease, which the Bulls so desperately need. Another thing I really enjoy about him is that he is ready to work. Do you remember the humble kid from Chicago that went number One overall and stole the hearts of many Bulls fans? Well, Williams carries himself with that exact same demeanor. He is humble, quiet and all he wants to do is play basketball and get better every day.

The thing with Williams is before you sell all of your stock on him because you never heard of him. Let him grow. I think his floor is just below a Luol Deng type of player and his ceiling is that of a Kawhi Leonard. By the way, Leonard is the greatest development story this league has ever seen. Frustration over picking a guy you have never heard of is understandable. But the rumor was the Spurs wanted to draft him. Do we remember what happened last time they got their hands on a dynamic two-way forward? Alright then.

What Not To Like

The unknown can always be construed as a negative thought because it could be good or bad, but let’s look elsewhere. Most of the general public are not enjoying this pick because of the numbers. He barely averaged Nine points per game coming off of the bench. He was fourth on the team in points and is one of the only few players that average more turnovers than assist during the season.

Another negative thing that people take into account is his aggression as a player. I have heard the term he is “too nice” on the court. Now that would be a problem if he was the future of this team. And future means the leading scorer and the reason the Bulls win a title. If that is a concern of yours then your expectations are too high. This was the first pick by the new regime and it will set the tone for the decade to come.

Williams Outlook Going Forward

This is a good pick. The Bulls are desperate for a wing defender; something Williams can make his name in right away. We will have to wait and see about his offense. This all comes down to expectations. When the Bulls are competing for titles, Williams will be a very good role player for us. Like a Trevor Ariza on the ’09 Lakers or Harrison Barnes on those Warriors teams. He will be an excellent role player for us and if he can develop even more than that, it’s just icing on the cake.

NBA Offseason Aftermath Pt. 2: Just the Worst

We already know who’s had the best, but which teams have had the worst offseasons in the NBA so far? It’s been a little over a week since the NBA Draft and free agency has hit its lull.

Restricted free agents like Brandon Ingram have even signed after seeing no movement outside of Bogdan Bogdanovic who ended up with Atlanta.

There was a surprising amount of activity but not all offseason moves are created equal. There was also at least one team with a disturbing lack of activity.

Who Had the Worst Offseason in the NBA?

Honorable Mentions:

Utah Jazz

Perhaps this is being nitpicky, but a team that finished sixth in the Western Conference and got bounced in the first round (albeit in seven games) didn’t add anyone of consequence to their roster this offseason?

Outside of the return of (another) defense-oriented big in Derrick Favors and adding another in Udoka Azubuike with the 27th overall pick they must be counting on more 50-point explosions in the playoffs from Donovan Mitchell.

Or maybe they’re relying on the return of Bojan Bogdanovic and perhaps second-rounder Elijah Hughes (that’s sarcasm, though he was a near-20 PPG scorer at Syracuse last season). We may have seen this group peak already.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks listing here is even more nitpicky as they did manage to do some very nice things with their roster. Trading for Jrue Holiday is a move very much akin to bringing in another Khris Middleton.

A player who can handle the ball, perform off the dribble or as a spot-up shooter, and is a very capable defender. Milwaukee was also able to unload the albatross contract of Eric Bledsoe in the process.

Can he, D.J. Augustine, and Bobby Portis keep Milwaukee in contention for not only a championship but also retaining the services of Giannis Antetokounmpo next offseason? Their little snafu with Bogdan Bogdanovic probably didn’t help the situation.

5. Charlotte Hornets

It’s pretty hard to have a roster as bad as the Charlotte Hornets, take arguably the best players in the draft, and add a former 20-point per game scorer to the roster and still be considered among the worst.

Drafting LaMelo Ball third overall was a no-brainer. But that former walking dub, Gordon Hayward, will cost Michael Jordan and the Hornets just shy of $40 million a year. That’s his $30 million deal (already grossly overspending) plus an additional $9 million from stretching the remainder of Nicolas Batum’s horrendous contract.

And that’s the rub, this isn’t abnormal for the franchise formally known as the Bobcats. Cody Zeller has never averaged more than just over 11 PPG and has never averaged close to double-digit rebounds yet is making upwards of $15 million this season. And has anybody checked on Terry Rozier?

4. New York Knicks

Can anyone answer why a team that has been searching for a point guard since Linsanity was a thing decided to pass on arguably three of the best and go for an older prospect with questions about his fit at the next level? One Kevin Knox isn’t enough so you go and get one with a lower ceiling?

Nevermind Tyrese Haliburton, Cole Anthony, and Kira Lewis were all still on the board. Austin Rivers is here to join Dennis Smith in the endless recycling of once-promising lead-guard prospects. The additions of Alec Burks and Omari Spellman are cool in a vacuum for a good team.

Their acquisitions for the Knicks, at least in Burks’ case is puzzling. Then again, this is the Knicks we’re talking about. That’s why they aren’t higher on this list. You can only be so upset about something you expected to happen.

3. Detroit Pistons

Here we have a team that, while expected to do silly things, actually provided a glimmer of hope in the draft just to sabotage their own work with odd free agency decisions. The easier path to the playoffs in the East has the Detroit Pistons drafting for the future but working free agency largely for the now and overpaying in the process.

Jerami Grant’s deal will see him average $20 million based largely on his bubble performance. He’s a valuable, versatile player. But no one expected to see him sign a deal worth that much. We haven’t even gotten to Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor. Just why?

Again, you expect them to screw things up for themselves. But their promising draft which included Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey out of Villanova (one of the most underrated prospects in this draft) is overshadowed by poor free agency decisions.

2. Indiana Pacers

How have the Indiana Pacers done so little in the offseason check-in so high on the list of worst offseasons? That’s exactly how, actually. Indy finished fourth in the East but, like Utah, was a first-round out via sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat.

Their saving grace was that arguably their best player in Victor Oladipo wasn’t at full strength and they were without Domantas Sabonis who also could make a claim as their best player. But since their elimination, it has been reported that there is a rift between Oladipo and management resulting in the two-time All-Star seeking a way out.

For an organization that didn’t do much to add to its early-exit roster, losing an All-Star caliber player seems less than ideal. The entire thing looks even worse considering Oladipo could have opted-out to preserve himself but played to help in the playoffs.

1. Los Angeles Clippers

A second-round exit and subsequent implosion (that may have been taking place all season) are why the (still) star-studded Los Angeles Clippers find themselves atop this unflattering list.

Getting bounced by a one-legged Luka Doncic is bad enough, but to have all the tea spilling about players dissatisfied with the treatment of stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Montrezl Harrell was a name continuously mentioned among those displeased and found his way to the rival Lakers; making his feelings on the situation very well known. They replaced him with Serge Ibaka and Landry Shamet with Luke Kennard.

Considering what the Lakers added and the fact the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead with many of the same players they’ll have this season, the latter has dropped the ball on what may be a pivotal offseason. Both Leonard and George can opt-out and become free agents after this season.

It’d be a shame if both left for greener pastures.

NBA Free Agency: Pairing Max-Contract Stars

The NBA is about to undergo a seismic shift. Current powers are set to topple while newcomers will emerge for a shot at a championship

Free agency begins in the NBA on July 1.

Players around the league will change teams, and thus, the outlooks of those teams. The right move could land you squarely into contention for a title, while the wrong signing can set your franchise back for any number of years.

It’s kind of a big deal.

With that, let’s take a look at some pairings for this crop of free agents, particularly those commanding max (or near-max) money.

None of these have been mentioned as even a remote possibility, but we won’t let that stop us. The goal is to create a duo that would be both fun to watch and have a legit chance at sustained success.

Conspicuously omitted from the festivities is one Kevin Durant. The forward would be no worse than the number two (and most likely the top) target on the market and a fun piece to pair with another star for this exercise.

That is if he weren’t set to miss most if not all of next season recovering from a ruptured Achilles.

Klay Thompson and Khris Middleton

Mirror mirror on the wall, this is a pairing of two players with similar abilities.

Both Klay Thompson and Khris Middleton are thought of more as off-ball, glue guys than true superstars in their own right. That could be beneficial against opponents defensive gameplans; who do you key on?

Conventional wisdom says that Thompson will be maxed by the Golden State Warriors and rehabs his torn ACL before returning around February. He averaged 21.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists on a .467/.402/.816 shooting line in 2018; just under his career-high in points and matching his high-mark in rebounds.

That same line of thinking would suggest that the Milwaukee Bucks do whatever it takes to max Middleton. He averaged 18.3 points, 6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and slashed .441/.378/.837.

They need to in order to keep their Eastern Conference finalist team intact and to keep a certain MVP happy and, ultimately, in town.

Klay took 80.1 percent of his shots off an assist, canned 42 percent of his catch and shoot opportunities, but also hit 44 percent of his pull-ups. Middleton had the ball more; over 57 percent of his makes came unassisted. He dropped 41.2 percent of his pull up attempts and generated nearly as many points per catch and shoot attempt (4.0) as he did per drive (4.4).

All of that and we have not even covered their defensive chops yet.

Middleton was top-20 in the NBA in defensive win shares while Thompson’s 108.5 defensive rating (and first appearance on an all-defense team) belies the defender he is. Separate they have been the ideal complementary pieces. Together they would be a coach’s dream.

Kemba Walker and Tobias Harris

What the previous pairing offers is to two-way ability, the pairing of Kemba Walker and Tobias Harris is to the offensive end. Put simply: they get buckets. They won’t provide much defensively, but they combined to average 45.6 points per game in 2018.

That would have been 11th among the top-two scorers on any team and Harris appeared on two of those teams.

Walker has been doing all the lifting for the Charlotte Hornets since 2011.

The three-time All-Star made his first All-NBA team with 25.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game on .434/.356/.844 shooting. The points and boards were both career-highs while earning All-NBA honors means he is supermax eligible.

But it is not inconceivable that the Hornets let him walk.

Harris has been a hired gun (without the hired part) his entire career.

Never scoring less than 11 points per game after his rookie campaign, he has been traded five times, including draft night. Harris split 2018 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers but still averaged a career-high 20 points to go with 7.9 boards with a .487/.397/.866 slash line, all career-highs.

Putting the two professional scorers together would not hinder either player.

Walker is ball dominant (over 71 percent of his makes were unassisted in 2018), but Harris was equally adept off as on, sporting a 49.9 to 50.1 assisted/unassisted ratio. Walker got most of his points off of drives (9.1 per game) and pull-up jumpers (10.5) and Harris (5.8 on drives, 5.0 on pull-ups, and 4.3 on catch & shoot) scores, period.

Together this max pair would give defenses all they could handle. Both of their 2018 campaigns featured numerous career-high marks, hinting that their best ball is ahead of them. Their ideal situation would be on a defensive-oriented team where they could be the primary generators of offense.

Their pick and pop would be borderline unfair.

D’Angelo Russell and DeMarcus Cousins

2018 was wonky for different reasons for this potential max pair. D’Angelo Russell broke out and led the Brooklyn Nets to their first playoff berth since 2014. DeMarcus Cousins spent most of his 2018 recovering from a torn Achilles (shout to KD), appearing in 30 regular season games with the Warriors to end the season.

Russell’s path to success was…bumpy.

Traded from the Los Angeles Lakers for off the court reasons, he put up career-highs across the board averaging 21.1/3.9/7 and shot 43.4 percent from the floor and 36.9 from deep, both personal bests. Rumors of the Nets not-so-secret pursuit of Kyrie Irving could mean Russell needs a new home.

Cousins took flak for joining the Dubs to chase a ring, but he also did it to prove he could be a team player. He did that, returning from a quad injury suffered early in the playoffs to play in all six Finals games. Those results were mixed, but he averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 boards, and 3.6 assists in 2018.

Unfortunately, two straight years with leg injuries likely suppress his value.

Russell cut down on his turnovers and posted the highest player efficiency rating of his career. Boogie’s growth as a player and teammate is a bigger development than his down stats in what is a particularly unique situation with the Warriors.

If he is able to get a long-term deal in free agency, he would be wise to consider it regardless of where it comes from.

The immediate image that thoughts of this duo conjures is a deadly scoring combo that can do so from all three levels.

Cousins did not operate as a roll man much (8.8 percent) for Golden State (Russell ran the action nearly 50 percent of the time) instead being utilized most in the post (21.9 percent) and as a spot-up shooter (24.3 percent). Still, he is an adept passer and Russell hit 39.4 percent of his catch and shoot triples.

Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving

This max pair is probably best described as an enigma wrapped in a question.

Kawhi Leonard followed up a lost 2017-18 season to lead the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA Championship, winning Finals MVP for his efforts. Most thought that the return of Kyrie Irving would carry the Boston Celtics into the Finals, but they ended up being sent home a round earlier instead.

Leonard’s exit from the San Antonio Spurs was very public but very one-sided. He let his play do most of the talking averaging 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds during the regular season and 30.5 points and 9.1 boards in the playoffs; all career-high marks.

Now he is the big fish in free agency (shout to KD) and reportedly choosing between Toronto and the Clippers.

Irving was traded to the Celtics last year and put up 24.4/3.8/5.1 and shot 49.1 percent from the floor (career-high) and 40.8 percent on (a career-high) 6.8 threes per game. This year it was 23.8/5/6.9 on .487/.401/..873 shooting.

Rather than putting the Cs over the top, though, he was often the root of the problem; butting heads with many in the organization.

Fit should be of no concern on the floor, Leonard’s Raptors were a lot different from the DeMar DeRozan-led squads; three of the five playoff starters for Toronto were in their first year in The North. Despite Irving flopping as a leader in Boston, his having played (well) with LeBron James means he is comfortable being off the ball.

Both of these guys are savants at what they do.

Leonard is the only person keeping Klay Thompson from being the best two-way player in the NBA and Irving is a shot taker and maker with a flair for the big stage. Between this shot from 2016 by Irving and this gem from this year’s playoffs by Leonard, these two paired would be the cause of a lot of heartbreak across the association.

All stats and info provided by Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com unless otherwise noted.