There’s an extremely skinny line between positional versatility and being a “tweener.” The previous brings a connotation of optimistic affect whereas defending a couple of place or enjoying a couple of function. However, the latter infers no function actually is a power.
For Grant Williams, he continues to stroll the tightrope between the 2. A powerful-bodied, high-IQ 6’6” ahead, there are nights the place he will get misplaced within the shuffle between wings and bigs that the Boston Celtics attempt too laborious to delineate. Different video games present the true worth of a fluid frontcourt piece, the place Grant can guard any place and stretch the ground successfully, two beneficial complementary abilities.
Proper now, Grant is in a tricky place the place his place, as a lot as his play, is what might get him squeezed from the rotation. Improved play from Robert Williams of late, and additions of stretch-5’s Luke Kornet and Mortiz Wagner, take away from the potential of siphoning off minutes on the 5. Equally, the wing rotation is on the mend and on account of be full of barely extra burst and impactful items. Evan Fournier eats a ton of minutes off the bench, whereas Romeo Langford and Semi Ojeleye are deserving of minutes when wholesome.
That leaves Grant Williams caught between a rock and a tough place.
Because the All-Star break, Williams has shot 8-26 (30.8%) from 3-point vary, and is averaging 3.4 factors, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 18.2 minutes. In two of his final three contests, Grant has performed fewer than ten minutes, each of which had been scoreless affairs. The minutes crunch has already begun, and with pretty pedestrian numbers and little capacity for the stat line to blow up on any given evening, it is smart that he’d be odd man out.
What Williams does greatest is stand within the nook and reliably knock down catch-and-shoot treys. He’s at 40.3% on all catch-and-shoots this yr, 39.5% from 3. Based on his Basketball Reference web page, he’s drilling 50% of his nook 3-pointers this yr.
After a rocky begin to his profession from deep, Williams has turned the corners into his private pop-a-shot recreation:
Sadly for Grant, the opposite wings aren’t scrubs on this division. Ojeleye is a profession 39% shooter from the corners and has turned in some spectacular video games to this point this yr. When he’s wholesome, he’s confirmed he deserves a strong 3&D function off the bench. Aaron Nesmith has proven regular enhancements and, in idea, is a extra revered taking pictures menace than Grant. The addition of Fournier to the staff (observe: by no means Google his identify) has introduced in a flexible taking pictures piece that enables the Celtics to run extra movement-based units. Neither Grant nor Semi can promise such a return.
All which means is that Grant must be higher in different areas to take care of a job within the rotation.
Offensively, Williams hasn’t given a lot off the bounce of late. For such a high-IQ facilitator, the selections he makes when attacking closeouts haven’t been remarkably optimistic. As a 50% shooter within the corners, guys will run him off the 3-point line with aggressive closeouts. It’s incumbent upon him to show that right into a 5-on-4 benefit and get to the rim, or at the very least discover one other wide-open shooter.
As an alternative, he might be indecisive, caught between layups and floaters, gradual to tear previous his man and missing power on the rim:
It appears like Grant missed his period by a few decade. Ten years in the past, he would’ve been a killer small-ball 4 who facilitates from the elbows, the place he’s greatest as a facilitator. Groups then ran a ton of Horns units and performed two guys on the elbows. Now, the ground must be unfold extra to maintain up with 3-point tempo across the league. Placing Williams on the elbows, particularly when he performs the wing, retains guys like Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown away from these areas and standing on the perimeter. That isn’t a recipe for fulfillment.
Defensively, Williams is reliably sturdy. He makes use of his power effectively and may physique some drivers. The mixture of agility and size permits him to be switchable 1 through 4. What Grant depends upon is his bodily power, the thick body and burly chest that enables him to soak up contact and never lose floor.
To play that method, Williams tends to crowd guys in isolation or off closeouts. The authorized banging he thrives on isn’t doable if he performs off guys. Nonetheless, standing that near NBA-caliber drivers does have penalties. The premier wings and greatest athletes he faces will rip the ball and drive round him, bringing his lateral quickness into query:
On the finish of the day, Williams is a plus defender: these are remoted incidents in opposition to some premier offensive gamers. However these miscues are the identical as those made by guys like Ojeleye, which means Grant isn’t a serious defensive improve. Different wings, like Langford and Nesmith, will play the three extra naturally and slide Tatum to the 4. Brad Stevens tends to belief Tatum on the market with the second unit for lengthy stretches. If Tatum is extra naturally a 4 in these minutes and may get premier spacing round him, the necessity for Grant to be enjoying the 4 is gone.
Why does all this matter?
We’re closing in on the halfway level of Williams’ rookie deal. The Celtics are stockpiled with younger gamers on rookie offers, and certain will add extra this summer time by way of the draft. Because the entrance workplace prepares their books and seems able to spend as soon as the repeater tax rely resets, not all of those younger gamers can keep. The staff will spend on veteran function gamers who assist straight away, and must create roster spots for these acquisitions.
Grant has confirmed to be shooter and a wise participant. He can provide serviceable minutes, albeit because the fifth wheel with a restricted offensive function. In some unspecified time in the future, serviceable isn’t going to be sufficient.
How do younger gamers develop and not using a constant path to minutes? It’s been the theme all through the previous two seasons on this Celtics’ roster. Some guys, like Timelord, have flourished and chipped away to carve out an even bigger function, to the purpose the place the staff felt snug shifting on from Daniel Theis. Others have struggled to capitalize on their minutes and are continuously guessing when their subsequent DNP will come. That’s the razor’s edge that Grant finds himself at now.
The following few months are essential for Williams, not only for his growth however his future with the membership.