To Will Perdue, the Chicago Bulls' 2022-23 season distills simply.
"The season basically hinges on Lonzo Ball's knee and Patrick Williams' mentality," Perdue said on the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast.
Perdue, who serves as an analyst on NBC Sports Chicago's Bulls Pregame Live and Bulls Postgame Live, delved into greater detail on the need for Williams' mentality to be on point.
"Not his skill set. Not his body type. None of that. Because I think we've proven that he's big enough, strong enough, fast enough, shoots the ball well enough, can attack the rim, can finish," Perdue said. "The question is: Has he been eating nails for lunch every day this summer?"
Williams earned second-team All-Rookie honors for averaging 9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists and starting 71 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season. A serious wrist injury and surgery caused by Mitchell Robinson's flagrant foul then limited his second season to just 17 games and five postseason appearances.
Williams posted back-to-back, 20-point games in that first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, raising expectations for a breakout third season. While management has preached core continuity, most team observers have pointed to Williams' ascension as the potential for the largest internal improvement.
"He's the fourth pick in the draft. And with the fourth pick in the draft comes expectations," Perdue said. "We understand that he has had injuries. But we're now going on the third season. And we've seen enough, even though each season has been abbreviated because of injuries, that it's time for him to live up to those expectations."
Williams followed through on his vow to work out with veteran DeMar DeRozan this offseason. He has spent time working out at the Advocate Center. And with training camp in roughly two months, Williams becoming a reliable and aggressive two-way threat will be a focal point.
"This team now has expectations. In previous years, there has been no expectations," Perdue said. "Previous year, it's just been, 'Can we just have a winning record? Can we see progress?' We've now seen progress. The front office has put this team in a position to succeed. Yeah, there's a lot of ifs and buts. But this is a totally different outlook than we've had in years past. That's where you find out what guys are made of---when a team or a player has expectations that they have to live up to.
"He's a great kid. He has shown incredible talent at times. What we need now is a bad-ass mentality with consistency."
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