Rookie point guard Jay Williams was in uniform, miked and ready
to go. The camera crew was set, the cue card poised. It was the
opening day of training camp, and a Bulls staffer had asked
Williams, the No. 2 pick out of Duke, to tape a public service
announcement. After a few botched attempts, Williams bolted out
of his chair. "My stomach is killing me," he said, unclipping his
mike. "I'll be right back." Minutes later Williams jogged back
into the Berto Center gym with a sheepish grin. "Sorry," he said.
Chicago fans can only hope Williams's debut wasn't an omen. After
four nauseating seasons the Bulls are counting on the 6'2"
Williams and his deep dishes to help turn this once-proud
franchise around. "I feel good about this team," says coach Bill
Cartwright, who went 17-38 after taking over for Tim Floyd in
midseason. "We've got more guys who can play."
That's not to say that Cartwright will like everything he sees as
he watches a defense that yielded a league-worst 46.5% shooting
last season. There are also questions about whether Williams and
swingman Jalen Rose can coexist as primary ball handlers, and at
least a half-dozen players under 24 years old should make the
roster. All this could spell chaos, but that's where an
orchestrator like Williams comes in. Though only 21 he has
maturity to go with explosiveness and acute court vision. In July
he declined an invitation to appear on The Tonight Show because
he didn't want to miss the first day of voluntary workouts before
summer league. He was also the first to call Donyell Marshall
after the veteran forward signed a three-year, $13.5 million deal
with Chicago. "If I want the ball in my hands at the end of a
game," Williams says, "I've got to have the trust of my
Cartwright envisions Williams as a penetrator on offense and a
full-court pest on D. The taller and slightly more experienced
Jamal Crawford is likely to start at the point at first, but
Williams, whose image already adorns billboards and print ads in
the Windy City, clearly will log heavy minutes. His biggest
adjustment will be learning game tempo and pick-and-roll defense,
two areas in which he struggled during the summer league. He also
must find ways to use his drive-and-dish skills within the Bulls'
triangle offense. He picked up a few pointers while backing up
Baron Davis and Andre Miller on the U.S. team at the world
championships over the summer. "I watched the way [Baron]
controls his body and uses it to make contact," Williams says.
"Andre makes it look so simple, yet he's crafty."
The Bulls say they aren't counting on big numbers right away from
Williams. What they need is his intelligence (he was captain of
his high school chess team), his drive (he was first in wind
sprints at training camp) and his winning touch (Duke was 95-13
in his three seasons). "He's gonna have nights where he looks
like a world beater and nights he's gonna look like he still
needs to be at Duke," says Rose, Chicago's leading scorer last
season. "That's when I've got to be there to put an arm around
him and tell him it's gonna be all right." --Marty Burns
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO BULL RUSH Williams would rather work out than appear on "The Tonight Show," but could he lead an NBA team today?
COLOR PHOTO: GARRETT W. ELLWOOD/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES FLOWER POWER Much of the leadership will fall to the 29-year-old Rose, Chicago's lone veteran starter.
Marcus Fizer's 427 boards were the lowest team-leading
total since rebounds became an official statistic in 1950-51.
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Bulls
"They've got three young, talented guys, which means they should
be good someday. But not now. They brought Tyson Chandler, Eddy
Curry, Jay Williams and Trenton Hassell to the Utah summer
league, and they didn't even win there.... Their go-to guy is
Jalen Rose, but I've never viewed him as a leader. That role
would have gone to Elton Brand if they hadn't traded him for
Chandler.... Williams is going to put up stats, but he's going to
realize quickly that a point guard is judged by victories. He's
going to struggle for a year with the triangle because he wants
to beat his man one-on-one off the dribble. Phil Jackson and Tex
Winter are still trying to get Kobe to be more patient in that
offense. If Kobe is still working at it, how long will it take
Williams?... The triangle takes time because you're not just
calling a play and ordering everybody to run to spots. In the
triangle your players need to read each other and know how to
make the backcourt cut or flash to the open spot when a teammate
is being overplayed. What has made it click for Jackson is that
when the shot clock's down, he's always had Michael or Kobe or
Shaq to bail him out. Who is Chicago going to in those
situations?... I like hearing Bill Cartwright say they're going
to play defense. The problem is that Curry and Chandler each
averaged a foul every seven or eight minutes, so it's going to be
hard to keep them on the court. Those two are going to be stars,
and I think you'll start seeing big improvement this year.
They're both shot blockers, which is a terrific thing to have....
As a fellow shot blocker Donyell Marshall looks like a good fit
with the youngsters, but if they're in foul trouble he's not the
kind of guy to carry them.... Cartwright is a young coach, and I
wish he had more experience on his staff. Bill Berry is the only
assistant who's been around a long time."
2001-02 record: 21-61 (eighth in Central)
Points scored: 89.5 (28th) Points allowed: 98.0 (23rd)
Coach: Bill Cartwright (second season with Bulls)
STARTERS PVR* 2001-02 KEY STATS
SF Jalen Rose 32 20.4 ppg 4.5 rpg 4.3 apg 0.94 spg 45.5 FG%
PF Tyson Chandler 145 6.1 ppg 4.8 rpg 0.8 apg 1.31 bpg 49.7 FG%
C Eddy Curry 148 6.7 ppg 3.8 rpg 0.3 apg 0.74 bpg 50.1 FG%
SG Trenton Hassell 170 8.7 ppg 3.3 rpg 2.2 apg 42.5 FG% 36.4 3FG%
Williams (R) 72 21.3 ppg 3.5 rpg 5.3 apg 2.17 spg 45.7 FG%
BENCH PVR* 2001-02 KEY STATS
Marshall 113 14.8 ppg 7.6 rpg 1.7 apg 1.16 bpg 51.9 FG%
F Eddie Robinson 152 9.0 ppg 2.7 rpg 1.3 apg 0.79 spg 45.3 FG%
G Jamal Crawford 175 9.3 ppg 1.5 rpg 2.4 apg 0.78 spg 47.6 FG%
F Marcus Fizer 208 12.3 ppg 5.6 rpg 1.6 apg 0.64 spg 43.8 FG%
G Fred Hoiberg 256 4.4 ppg 2.7 rpg 1.7 apg 0.77 spg 41.6 FG%
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 92)
MARSHALL IS A GOOD FIT, BUT IF THEY'RE IN FOUL TROUBLE HE'S NOT A
GUY TO CARRY THEM.