NEW YORK — Bulls forward Patrick Williams made a solid point Monday when asked about falling short statistically when compared with Raptors forward Scottie Barnes. They were a year apart at Florida State, in the same role and with almost the same body type.
Yet Barnes, a rookie, entered Monday averaging 15.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Williams’ argument: How does anyone know that he, too, couldn’t have numbers like that for the Raptors?
“It’s no secret to anybody on this team of what I can do offensively,” Williams said. “Maybe people on the outside don’t see that, but when you’re trying to win, you have to do whatever it takes to win. It takes what it takes. Definitely I can be more aggressive on offense in certain areas, but Scottie is in a different situation. Scottie doesn’t have a [teammate like] DeMar [DeRozan]. He doesn’t have a [Nikola Vucevic]. He’s had to step into a scoring role.
“I don’t think [the Raptors] came into the season thinking they would be winning as many games as they have, but he’s been playing well. I always wish nothing but the best for him. He’s been amazing. But it’s a little different because we have very different teams.”
That doesn’t mean Williams still doesn’t need to pick up his scoring at some point. But he has been dropped into a tough situation, playing in just his 10th game of the season Monday against the Knicks after returning from surgery on the wrist he injured in late October. He would love to put up 19.3 shot attempts per game, as he did in the Summer League. But that’s not realistic with so much at stake for the Bulls as they enter their final seven regular-season games.
“For sure, winning is why I play this game,” Williams said. “Everybody doesn’t get what they want when you get a win. There’s a sacrifice to it. But there’s also the idea of no one knows exactly what every game will need. It has a life of its own. Whether you’re getting 20 shots in that game or not, [you] just always [have to be] ready to come out and be aggressive for what’s needed. Winning is the top priority.
“Everybody on this team has crazy offensive potential. Defensively is where we need to lock in. So just coming back for me, that’s been the focus.”
Coach Billy Donovan gets where Williams is coming from but also needs him to stay aggressive, whether it’s scoring, defense or just physically imposing his will on a play.
“With Patrick, to me, it’s all mentality,” Donovan said. “It’s not his skill set, it’s not his body, it’s not his quickness or athleticism. He kind of came back in that first game against Toronto [last Monday], and he really played well off the bench in a limited amount of minutes. Then he had a couple of games there where you just didn’t feel him for two games. Then, all of a sudden you come back against Cleveland and you kind of feel him.
“That has to be consistent. His running, his athleticism, his size into the game — there’s plenty of opportunity for him to do that.”
Not so bleak for Ball
Guard Lonzo Ball (bone bruise, left knee) is still expected to restart his rehab program later this week. Donovan cleared up that there’s no doomsday scenario in which the Bulls shut Ball down for the rest of the season if his pain comes back.
“[The trainers] have not [yet] said to me, ‘Hey, if we try and ramp him back up and he’s not responding . . .’ ’’ Donovan said. “The encouraging part is Lonzo is really driving this, as far as wanting to get back.”