Patrick Williams has one of the most unusual shots in the NBA. It’s not quite a floater or a pull up jump shot. It isn’t a hook shot either, but it has some properties of all three.
“I’m not exactly sure why I do it, but it works,” Williams said.
It’s his patented (pawtented?) one-handed jumper and it’s become one of his go-to moves when driving to the basket.
Most players model their game after moves they’ve seen before. Not this one. No one else does anything like it. If it isn’t something he has developed recently, it must be something has been doing his whole life. Nope. Williams whipped it out by accident preparing for the NBA Draft back in the summer of 2020 and hasn’t looked back.
“I started it my pre-draft summer,” Williams said. “Really can’t explain why I did it. I was playing pick up with a couple pros: Hassan Whiteside, Trae Young, Spencer Dinwiddie. We were out in LA working out. We were playing pick up and I tried to shoot a floater and Hassan almost blocked it, so I just tried to move it a little and it went in.”
Here’s a pre-draft clip of Williams working out in the pickup run.
It’s not a quick-trigger release. He isn’t creating separation in the form of a fadeaway. It seems even less controlled because he only uses one hand. But despite the awkwardness, this has quickly become one of Williams’ go-to moves.
Floaters aren’t typically associated with hang time. Usually smaller guards employ them to beat shot blockers with speed and finesse. Typically, that comes from a lower release point while on the move to throw off the timing of the big. It’s a speedy way to get a shot off while your momentum is taking you forward without having to stop and elevate.
The floater is widespread now with bigger wings taking on more creation responsibilities. Paul George is a great example, adopting it to beat bigs in drop coverage. For him, the purpose is to get off a high-arching shot before the shot blocker can react, so he is much closer to the ground when he releases.
You can see how drastically different this looks from Williams’ version.
Williams’ iteration is less about speed and more about disrupting the big’s angle. The idea isn’t to beat the shot blocker with quickness, but rather to evade him on the vertical or horizontal plane while he’s already mid-air. And he uses all of his 6-foot-7 frame and near 7-foot wingspan to do so. It’s a much flatter shot — a one-handed pull-up jumper.
It seems crazy to think Williams has more control over this shot considering he doesn’t use a guide hand, but that’s what happens when you have huge hands.
“My hands are pretty big, so I have a lot of control if I keep it in my hand,” Williams said.
That’s where the similarity to a hook shot comes in. Going back to the pre-draft run, he hangs and adjusts the position of the ball after turning over his left shoulder on the block against Whiteside.
“I think I have more control than if I just floated it up there,” he continued. “It’s almost like a Nerf Ball. It’s easier to control the Nerf Ball if you have it in your hand and palm it than if you have it on your finger tips.”
Using shots categorized as ‘floater’ as an imperfect proxy, Williams has taken 33 shots such attempts in his career. That’s seven percent of his 463 two-point field goals he has attempted in his career. Clearly a staple of his game.
“I think it’s just feeling it out,” Williams said. “I use the pull-up free throw line and back. However the defense is playing it. I usually don’t know exactly what I’m going to do when I’m driving. Whatever I feel is going to work at the time.”
For the Bulls to maintain or reach new heights as a team, Williams has to take a big step forward. The areas we need to see the most growth in are becoming a defensive stopper, a more confident shooter and growing into a larger role as a shot creator.
That means the Bulls need to give Williams the ball a lot more. And if they do, we’ll likely see a lot more of his funky one-handed jump/hook/floater shot in the future.
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