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As Rob Williams emerges, fans may see changes in Celtics style



In November of 2019, the start of Rob Williams' second season in the NBA, I boldly compared Rob's shot-blocking ability to that of the legendary Bill Russell. I was cautious not to over-blow the praise to other areas, such as rebounding, savvy and leadership. It may be time to expand the expectations for this truly-superior athlete. The following from my November, 2019 article:

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.

Williams' 16 points and 13 boards in a mere 19 minutes of floor time made him one of only 10 NBA players to accomplish this feat in under 20 minutes. What does Rob's emergence mean for his team and its future?

To start, The Green have not seen a center with this physique, quickness, mobility and athleticism since Russell retired in 1969. The 6'8.5" Dave Cowens was similar to TIMELORD in many ways, but Big Red's superior athleticism fell slightly short of Rob's, and Dave only averaged 0.9 blocks per game for his career.

Robert Parish could run the floor and always kept his body in great shape - and he did average 1.5 blocks/game over his NBA tenure, but he was not as quick, mobile or athletic as Williams III. Ditto for Kendrick Perkins.

So what does Brad Stevens do with this athletic marvel? Right off the bat, Brad should NOT try to turn him into a 3-point wonder. Williams' top overall value may be in getting his teammates what they have trouble finding - EASY BASKETS

The obscure value pertains to the easy baskets that Rob may generate. Iso-ball requires a lot of individual effort, and the rewards from the physical strain don't always come to fruition. Easy baskets come from steals, blocks, offensive boards and the resultant (hopefully) fast breaks that lead to scores.

Rob's skills could mean some changes in the style of the current version of the Boston Celtics. That would not be a terrible thing. Easy baskets seem hard to come by with this present crew. Significant leads disappear in Crunch Time. 

Flash back to the 60's when Russ would block a shot or snatch a defensive rebound - and it was off to the races. A short pass to Bob Cousy, followed by a long outlet to a sprinting Sam Jones or Tommy Heinsohn (yes, Heinsohn) for a  bunny lay-in. And how about easy put-backs from offensive boards? Rob is averaging almost five (4.8) offensive rebounds per 36 minutes over the last 10 games.

If Rob Williams is truly as good as Celtics fans project him to be, those fans may start to see less iso-ball and 3-point marathons and more running, off-ball movement and yes - easy baskets via steals, blocks, fast breaks, offensive boards and put-backs. Sounds exciting.


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