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Robert Williams III already an elite shot blocker, comparable to Bill Russell

Let me preface my comparison of Rob Williams to the legendary Bill Russell with the statement that this article is only focused on shot blocking - and nothing else. The Celtics second-year center, Rob Williams III, has already established himself as an elite shot blocker. At 6'8", with a 7'6" wingspan and seemingly unlimited athleticism, his primary value on the court may be as a rim protector. The legendary Bill Russell came into the League in December of 1956, approaching the age of 23. Russ could never hit a shot from any distance, and his foul shooting would never win him any honors - but he could do everything else. He was an extraordinary rebounder, but it was his ability to blocks shots that stood out.


Blocks were never recorded as a statistic during Bill's tenure in Boston, but it is estimated that he averaged roughly eight blocks per game for his career. It should be remembered, however, that Russ was a sizable center at the time, and with that length, 7'4" wingspan and leaping ability, he could deflect shot attempts and deter opponents from attempting them. He was the main reason that blocked shots became a statistic.

Williams III came into the NBA last season at the age of 20. For his short career, he is averaging just under five blocks per game over a 36-minute span. He only averaged 8.8 MPG last season, and only saw action in 32 games. Russell, on the other hand, saw minutes in the thirties his first two years, and those minutes got into the forties for most of his remaining years.


Where Russ was a taller-than-average center at the time, Rob is undersized at the position. Doesn't seem to matter. I watch Williams' elevation, position and timing, and I immediately see Russell-like shot-blocking potential in him. More time on the floor will make him better. Robert will almost certainly never achieve Russell's overall talent level, fame or astounding rebounding ability, but don't be surprised if, with more seasoning, Rob electrifies Boston fans with his ability to deter shots. Actually, he is already doing just that.

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