It's just a blessing – Williams takes pride in guarding Giannis despite Bucks victory

By Patric Ridge 2 January 2021 6
It's just a blessing – Williams takes pride in guarding Giannis despite Bucks victory

Patrick Williams took pride in guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo, even though the rookie could not stop the NBA's reigning MVP from delivering a stellar performance against the Chicago Bulls.

Antetokounmpo recorded 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as he helped the Milwaukee Bucks to a 126-96 victory on Friday.

Milwaukee had seven players in double digits, and they hit 22 three-pointers. No team has hit more treble scores through the first six games of a season than the Bucks' tally of 108.

Despite the heavy defeat, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan was happy with the performance of Williams, who on his sixth appearance was tasked with the unenviable challenge of shadowing Antetokounmpo.

"I'm sure internally inside of himself he's probably saying, like, 'Wow, last year I was playing in college, the year before that I was in high school'," Donovan told reporters.

"It's a lot for a young player to handle. But he's got to kind of get thrown to it, and he's gotta learn it and experience it. But his attitude and his disposition, whatever you put in front of him is always the same."

Reflecting on his game, 19-year-old Williams said: "My chest is on fire right now just from the shoulders that [Antetokounmpo] gave me.

"I was just blessed to be in this opportunity for sure. Of course, we wanted to win the game, but now that we didn't win, we can learn from it.

"He doesn't really compare to any other guy that I've had to guard yet this season. But the next time we play them, I hope to guard him again and do better.

"Being able to guard somebody like that in my sixth game of the season, it means a lot. It means a lot that coach trusted me to guard him pretty much the entire game when I was out there. It shows the trust that he has in me and the trust that I have to have in myself. It means a lot for sure.

"I want to guard the best player every night. It's just the person that I am. I want to be the guy that always guards the best person. So, if I want to be that guy, I've got to learn from it. It's just a blessing."

Last month, Antetokounmpo signed an extension reportedly worth $228.2million (£170.1m) – the largest deal in NBA history.

Averaging 23.5 points per game, he has helped the Bucks – who have a home series against the Detroit Pistons up next – to three wins this season.

"I'd say the growth in my game comes from being less stubborn," Antetokounmpo told a postgame media conference.

"Keep your team-mates involved, got to look at the bigger picture. Being less stubborn, sacrificing for my team-mates."

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