Monday, October 25, 2021

Celtic’s Big Man fights hard for minutes

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The Boston Celtics have seen a number of strong performances from bankers over the course of the preseason. When the team won against the Toronto Raptors on October 9, however, third-year power forward Grant Williams showed some particularly exciting offensive skills.

Williams led the Beantowners’ banking work that evening by scoring 12 points and hitting two of his four attempts to shoot from within three-point range. He also threw a gnarled slam on some off-ball action following a slick feed from Al Horford.

It was a piece that served as a proof of concept for the work he did over the summer to lose weight and assert himself offensively as both a cutter and a shooter / scorer. And Williams is all about progress.

“That dunk made me a little happier,” Williams said of CLNS Media. “I get a little in the air, feel a little lighter, defend a little better and try to improve every day.”

That improvement could be key to helping Williams secure his place in the tide of the greats currently filling the Celtics’ forecourt.

Since the beginning of his Celtics career, Williams has left little doubt about his defensive potential. As a rookie, he averaged 2.2 combined blocks and steals per 36 minutes. He also had impressive defensive statistics last season. Of the team’s most-used players in the 2020-21 season (those with at least 1000 minutes played), Williams had Boston’s top defensive rating at 109.3.

Additionally, opponents field goal percentages dropped 2% from their norms when Williams was the closest defender, according to NBA tracking data. This figure reached 5.3% in attempts to shoot within 3 meters of the tire.

His offense, however, was slower.

Williams has yet to dwarf 5.0 points per contest as a professional, and he’s only a 32% three-point shooter for his career (though that number hit 37.2% last season). Most of the time he was pretty one-dimensional when and where he got his points. However, he is working to adapt to Ime Udoka’s new offensive where ball movements and cuts are a way of life.

According to Williams, part of this development has also come with experience.

“They always say the game gets really slower over time,” he said after the Raptors game. “Well, I’ve seen it through my second year and now more through my third year, just in terms of distance – to see where to be on the pitch, when to cut back, when to step back and the teammates understands a little better. ”

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Whether Williams can have a bigger impact on the Celtics in 2021-22 remains to be seen. He may progress as a two-way four-man and a small-ball five, but Udoka has no shortage of other options.

After catching up with the Celtics late last season, Jabari Parker is still in the mix. He and Williams are joined by Celtic Enes Kanter – a certified double-double machine – and Juancho Hernangomez, who actually started as a power forward at the start of the pre-season in Boston. Elsewhere on the roster, Horford has the option to play for Udoka in fours and fours, and Robert Williams is at the center of the team of the future (and likely the present).

Williams makes it clear, however, with his preseason game.


Williams makes it clear, however, with his preseason game.

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