The Boston Celtics entered the 2018 NBA Draft with no lottery picks, but a desperate need for size in the frontcourt.
After two seasons of selecting early in the NBA Draft due to trades, the team in green had the goal of supplementing their team with a player that could contribute off of the bench. With the twenty-seventh pick, the latest first pick for the team since 2010, they were not going to grab a young superstar, like Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, but instead had the opportunity to snag a low-ceiling player who could contribute right away in a role off of the bench, and help the team contend for a championship in the 2018-19 season.
They used their only pick in the draft to select Robert Williams III out of Texas A&M University. The sophomore power forward/center stands at six feet and ten inches tall, with a physical presence that helped him average over nine rebounds per game this past season.
Rated as the 56th best player in the 2016 high school draft class, Williams was widely considered to be the best high school basketball player in his home state of Louisiana during his senior year. His play upon his first year of college was strong enough for him to be considered a lottery pick in the 2017 draft, however, Williams chose to return to school.
Despite having strong stock still, his value fell after scoring less points per game in the 2017-18 season. Despite scoring one and a half less points each time he suited up, his efficiency improved. His shooting percentage significantly improved, while grabbing one extra rebound per game. This was all while averaging near the same per game averages in assists, steals and blocks.
Rhode Islanders are very familiar with the Celtics’ new rookie. Prior to the Aggies sweet sixteen loss to eventual runner-up Michigan, Williams had a strong performance which led to the elimination of the PC Friars from the first round of this year’s NCAA Tournament. His fourteen rebounds and thirteen points in the matchup showed his NBA value, and what he can offer for a team.
With a base of wing players comprised of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics, the team decided to not look for another outside shooter. Instead they chose to add onto their already league best defense.
Twice being named the SEC’s defensive player of the year- once being named the co-defensive player of the year- Williams is a player that Brad Stevens will enjoy using off the bench. He cannot be expected to start right away, likely finding himself behind Al Horford and Marcus Morris on the depth chart at power forward. He does not have the size to be a full-time center but could step in at times. Just hopefully not at the free-throw line, because his shooting percentage from the charity stripe was below 50 last season.
Overall, Robert Williams should be able to fit in with the Celtics in a bench role. He cannot be expected to be in the rookie of the year conversation, he’s never going to be the MVP of the NBA. But if any player in the draft is capable of putting up a fight defensively and on the glass from the bench, this is their guy. He’ll contribute to a championship run if and when they go on one.
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