Billy Donovan had some harsh, honest comments about Patrick Williams prior to the game against Miami.
“There’s absolutely zero foundation for being a professional NBA athlete,” Donovan said on Saturday night.
Donovan shared a few examples of how unprepared Williams was for the NBA as a 19-year-old coming out of college. From not understanding the process of working with the medical staff to his diet, he said it was clear Williams didn’t know how to take care of himself.
“I’m not trying to embarrass him, that’s just where he was at,” Donovan said. “He didn’t understand the importance of eating breakfast. I saw him last year and pre-game he had like two huge pieces of chicken parmesan pasta and we’re playing in an hour and 15 minutes. And I’m like, ‘Patrick you cannot eat that’.”
A lesson he has since picked up on:
Williams being a work in progress is not a novel concept. He’s a raw athlete with good touch, great physical tools and has shown flashes of being great.
The next step is showing up with more consistency and asserting himself without being told to do so.
“I had to get on him at halftime [against the Clippers],” Donovan said. “You have to do more. He goes out there and tries to do it, but it’s gotta get to the point where it’s more instinctive, when he’s doing it on his own.”
It takes time. And it’s clear there needs to be even more patience with him given the new context surrounded his preparedness.
From not being honest with the medical staff about how his ankle was affecting him at the beginning of the season, to oversharing about his tardiness to practice, it’s clear Williams has a ways to go.
“He’s very, very honest, he’s very, very sincere, and he’s a very, very truthful guy,” Donovan said. “He assumes responsibility. All this stuff is new for him. I know he’s had a year. Even for me as a coach, ‘play him 30 minutes,’ sometimes he’s not ready for that.
The trajectory of late is in the right direction. I don’t think this was Donovan purposefully putting Williams under the bus. Just a form of level-setting expectations. Let’s stay level-headed in our evaluation of Williams’ performance. There will be great moments and frustrating ones, but progress is not always linear.