Despite all his physical tools, the thing that always stood out about Patrick Williams’ since draft night is his live-dribble left-handed passes.
The way he flings the ball so effortlessly across the court with his off hand is almost too easy. Ever since his draft night, I had ruminated on a theory there might be something more going on there. Maybe he was ambidextrous? Or even a natural lefty?
Turns out that my hunch was right.
“Yeah, I used to be left-handed early on,” Williams told CHGO with a smile. “But my older brothers are right-handed, and as the youngest, I really just wanted to be able to do whatever they did. That’s what had me playing basketball in the first place. I just wanted to be like them.”
Williams’ oldest brother Eddie was right-handed and his middle brother Kobie is ambidextrous. Eddie was the athlete of the family whereas Kobie was better at the skill stuff — shooting and dribbling. Patrick learned to follow their lead from a young age playing 21 (no fouls, of course) and competitive shooting games on the gravel pathway court in their Charlotte, North Carolina yard or at the park down the street that had a full cement court.
“I was probably super young when I started doing what they were doing,” Williams said. “So, right-handed. I grew up, in terms of school and everything, as long as I can remember it was right-handed. Wrote with my right hand and things like that. It was just kind of natural for me at that point. I think I switched from left to right early, early.”
Growing up, Williams did everything right-handed. But when he started getting more and more competitive with his brothers, especially the ambidextrous Kobie, he would start to test things out with his left hand. The two would do shooting drills where each would take a pull-up jumper. Then another. But the older brother can’t let the youngest win. So in an attempt to throw Patrick off, Kobie would mix in a lefty shot.
“I’m like “Oh, that’s what we’re doing”,” Williams said. “We’re both super competitive so now it’s like we’re having a battle with it.”
All players work on their off hand, but Williams still trains this way. He has some of those same competitions, like best out of five left-handed jumpers, with DeMar DeRozan after shootarounds.
“I’ll just try some things left-handed and it just feels natural. So it’s still like figuring out almost everything that I can do with both,” he said.
Williams feels more comfortable dribbling with his left in the open court. His live-dribble passing just comes naturally. Even some of his most thunderous dunks, like this one on Isaiah Hartenstein last season, are left-handed:
He learned even more about his proclivity towards being southpaw when he tore ligaments in his left wrist early last season. After he got his cast off, the rehab process forced him to test his limits doing everyday tasks with his left.
“When I came back from the injury, obviously I hurt my left wrist, I would try to see if things felt normal,” he said. “So I would try to write with it. I would do anything I could think of that I can do with my right, I would just try to do with my left, like opening the door.”
“They would ask me how does it feel to do certain things,” he continued “I was trying to make sure I was fully back healthy, so just trying to make sure anything I did with right hand I could do with my left.”
Patrick always had a “foolish confidence” he would make it to the NBA, but neither of his older brothers reached their dreams of playing in the league. Still, their influence on making their youngest brother the player he is today is something Patrick relishes.
“[Kobie’s] more of the skilled one, like anything skilled he can do,” Williams said. “He’s the best shooter in the family. Anything skilled he has. Then [Eddie] is more the athleticism. He didn’t have as much of the skill, but he had super, super athlete. Just ridiculous type athlete. For sure (more than me). Some of the things Javonte does reminds me of him. Just in the backyard. Just doing random things you’re not supposed to do.”
Patrick is the middle of that Venn diagram.
“For me to have a little bit of both of them is pretty cool,” he said. “It’s pretty cool for them to see because they obviously had dreams of making it but they didn’t.”