The Boston Celtics depth in the frontcourt will prevent rookie center Robert Williams III from playing big minutes this season, but he’s already shown what his potential role could be in the future.
With the 27th pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics selected the 6-foot-10 big man from Texas A&M – Robert Williams. At Texas A&M, Williams averaged 11 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, a steal, and an assist in his two-year college career.
Early mock drafts had Williams falling at the 15th pick, but as the year went on he fell down the draft board due to one concern – maturity, or lack thereof. Will the Boston Celtics rookie Robert Williams prove to be an asset?
The concern of Williams maturity was immediately brought into question as Williams slept past his initial introductory phone call. Soon after, he missed his flight to the NBA Summer League. Since then, coach Brad Stevens and GM Danny Ainge have had a close eye on the rookie.
Since the initial dilemmas, Brad Stevens has gone on record saying that Williams has since been a model citizen and has shown a major improvement in his work ethic.
In the preseason, Williams played in all 4 games, averaging 5 points, 2 rebounds, and a block in 10 minutes per game.
So far this season, Williams has not had much of an opportunity to play on an NBA court. Williams has only played in 5 games, averaging about 3 minutes per game. In the 15 total minutes he has played in the NBA he has scored 5 points, made 3 blocks, grabbed 4 rebounds, and is responsible for one assist. With the Celtics roster being extremely talented and deep, it is hard for Williams to get any minutes.
Due to the lack of playing time the Celtics sent the rookie to their G-League affiliate team for a game, the Maine Red Claws.
In Williams debut for the Maine Red Claws, he played for 24 minutes, in which he was responsible for a double-double: 11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 assists. These numbers suggest that Williams has the potential to be a threat down the line.
What can fans expect from Williams for now? Not much – but that is ok. Because of the Celtics depth, he will not receive many NBA minutes, unless the injury plague strikes Boston again.
Look for Williams to go back and forth between the Celtics and the Red Claws. The Celtics will want him to play with the Red Claws as much as possible to gain some valuable experience.
Robert Williams has a lot of room to grow within the Celtics organization. Currently placed behind Daniel Theis, Aron Baynes, and Al Horford on the depth chart, Williams is viewed as a future contributor.
With Horford being 32, Baynes 31, and Theis 26, Williams is the youngest big man on the team at 21 years old. His size, athleticism, and wingspan could make Williams a beast in the paint over time. He has shown his potential in the few minutes he has earned for the Celtics.
In the recent game against the Denver Nuggets, Williams grabbed a rebound and immediately took advantage of Denver’s defense with a putback slam. Watch how quickly he’s able to secure the ball and go up for the slam.
This was just a short glimpse of what Williams can eventually offer when Horford and Baynes age out. His athleticism, wingspan, and good decision-making skills were put on full display. In another game against the Detroit Pistons, Williams showed off his athleticism and strength in an alley-oop slam.
Watch the bench very closely in both of those videos. Notice how excited the team gets?
With flashy dunks and put-back slams, Williams could grow into the role as the team spark plug. While those are Williams’ only baskets, they are also his only attempts. Williams has shown a good basketball IQ, and won’t try to force a shot that isn’t there.
Williams did a great job of showing off his basketbal instincts and quick decision-making in the Pistons game, where he made a quick pass to Yabusele, who got an easy layup for 2 points.
Williams also showed off his wingspan and quick decision making in the game against the Pistons, where he recorded 3 blocks. One of those blocks came from Williams sliding over on time to play help-defense, stepping into the lane to block the shot.
When given the opportunity, Robert Williams will not disappoint. Williams is a good asset for the Celtics to have in the off chance that Horford, Baynes, or Theis go down with an injury – which did happen last season.
Otherwise, Stevens and the Celtics coaching staff will look to find opportunities for the rookie center to play and develop, whether that’s in spot duty with Boston, or in the G-League with the Red Claws.
Long term, Williams has already shown the potential to be a rim-running, shot-blocking center, the type of player Boston doesn’t have elsewhere on the roster. So far, Williams has given Celtics fans hope he can take over time in the middle as the other Boston bigs get older , or their contracts aren’t renewed.