Bulls wing Patrick Williams continues to frustrate with inconsistency

The fourth-year player has one more preseason game to try to lessen the concerns about his consistency heading into what could be a contract year. Williams might want to focus on doing just that against the Timberwolves.

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Patrick Williams

While it’s not necessarily fair to compare young NBA players, the Patrick Williams-Scottie Barnes comparison doesn’t fall in the favor of the Bulls.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It was a typical Patrick Williams line in the box score.

In the Bulls’ 106-102 loss to the Raptors on Tuesday at the United Center, Williams had 10 points, grabbed three rebounds and made two three-pointers — underwhelming but almost expected numbers from the fourth-year forward.

And that’s why Williams remains one of the more frustrating players in the organization.

He has shown flashes of brilliance, but in the end, it’s the same old, same old.

“Consistency is going to be a big factor,’’ Williams said a few weeks ago at the start of training camp.

“I don’t think I’m telling you anything or anybody here anything. They all know, and I appreciate the guys in the locker room. The coaches all know. They tell me how talented I am, how I can affect the game in different ways.’’

Against Toronto, Bulls coach Billy Donovan also saw how Williams can hurt the team.

Showing a lack of focus and physicality, Williams was pulled 2:45 into the game. Donovan subbed in Torrey Craig, so he could have a chat with him.

Williams seemed to somewhat get the message, but with the Bulls closing out the preseason Thursday against the Timberwolves, could his starting status suddenly be in jeopardy?

Donovan wasn’t about to name regular-season starters Wednesday. He doesn’t even announce starters during pregame news conferences. He has, however, been showing his hand in the first four preseason games, starting guard Coby White and Williams in each of them.

White entered camp in a point-guard battle with Jevon Carter and Ayo Dosunmu and Williams was battling Craig at power forward for the two spots alongside Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola -Vucevic.

White has delivered on his end of the bargain, showing off improvements in his ballhandling and decision-making. Williams? Not so much.

“Hopefully these are learning experiences for [Williams],’’ Donovan said. “Certainly, he has shown he can do it. We’ve got to find a way to continually get that pulled out of him. He’s got to be way more aggressive in some areas.’’

Some?

The Bulls have to make a financial decision on Williams’ rookie contract this season, so “some’’ was being kind.

And the real sting in the loss to Toronto was magnified by the player competing against Williams.

Comparing players rarely has a good ending, but Williams admittedly knows he can never avoid the comparisons to Toronto’s Scottie Barnes.

Both played at Florida State a year apart; both came off the bench for the Seminoles and had the same role. Both are considered versatile wings and were picked fourth overall in the first round — Williams in 2020, Barnes in 2021.

Barnes continues to do everything Williams was expected to do.

While Williams was being pulled and receiving a talking-to, Barnes was on his way to 22 points, six rebounds, four blocks and three assists.

“Definitely I can be more aggressive on offense in certain areas, but Scottie is in a different situation,’’ Williams said of the comparison last season. “Scottie doesn’t have a [teammate like] DeMar. He doesn’t have a [Vucevic]. He’s had to step into a scoring role.’’

Maybe, but he also has stepped into rebounding and playmaking roles. Williams has not.

And Barnes is a foundation piece for the Raptors, while Williams could be part of a trade package if the Bulls’ season goes south.

It’s time for Williams to make a consistent impact, starting in the preseason finale.

The clock is ticking.

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