The Boston Celtics took Grant Williams with their second pick and the 22nd overall in the 2019 NBA draft.
Many people are unfamiliar with the Celtics’ second first round pick so lets get started by going through his resume: Grant Williams is a two-time SEC player of the year, first-team All-American, Wooden award finalist, averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, on 58.2% EFG, and was arguably the best player on one of the best teams in the country. Williams is 6’7.5″ with a 6’9.75″ wingspan and weighs in at 240 pounds.
Williams’ offensive game is often focused around the rim. He has great feet that help him with his post game and is an excellent finisher which produced a ton of points this past season with Tennessee. He uses his strength and timing to get defenders on their heels which allows him rise above them for his hook shots and jumpers.
It’s difficult to imagine a 6’7.5″ player thriving exclusively in the post especially in the modern NBA, but because of his many skill sets the Boston Celtics will not be using him the same way Tennessee did. According to Brad Stevens, Grant Williams has a “point guard’s mind”, that coupled with his superior interior passing ability, the Celtics will be able to run some of the offense through him.
As far as his shooting goes, the Volunteers had him limited to mid range shots most of the time so there were some questions about how he would be able to stretch the floor. However, that’s not something Brad Stevens seems to be too worried about: “he’s a versatile player who can shoot the ball, didn’t shoot the ball much from three, they didn’t need him to do that but his shot looks good and we think that will be a pretty easy transition for him.”
The good news is that Grant Williams does not have many weaknesses in his offensive game but one area that could improve is the post game. I know I praised it above but that just means the foundation is there. As of now he has just a couple moves, an across the middle hook and his signature spin move. His spin move doesn’t create much separation but his big frame allows him to get defenders off balance and rise above them to score. If he can add a couple more moves he could be an elite all around player.
From time to time Williams will force a pass or rush a shot attempt, but the majority of his issues are coachable or things he will learn over time by getting more reps.
I’ve made it very well documented that Grant Williams has a really strong build and quick feet which is perfect for switching on defense. Right now he can switch two through four or three through five with his greatest strength being interior defense; he’s very hard to move and has a great jump for disciplined contests.
Grant Williams is one of the smartest players in the draft and there are plenty of examples of that on both sides of the floor, he anticipates players’ movements and tries to direct them to spots he can defend.
He has the defensive instincts and athleticism to see back door cuts, recover as the weak side defender, pressure players out on the perimeter, get in passing lanes, and recover on hedges. He will fit right in on this Boston Celtics team.
Williams is an excellent interior defender because of his overall strength, however, he is smaller than many of the centers in the NBA at about 6’7″, so if he gets caught on switches he may give up a hook shot or a floater over the top, but this will never be a match-up opponents go out of their way to exploit.
The bigger concern is if he gets switched onto quick guards. Despite having quick feet for a big, he simply will not be able to keep up with some of the smaller players.
Fit with the Boston Celtics
It looks like the Boston Celtics made a great pick late in the first round. Williams is a versatile player on both ends of the floor which every team needs but perhaps the most intriguing quality of his is his overall intelligence that Stevens gushed over when asked about Grant Williams post NBA Draft: “Super smart, he’s a guy I look at as a guy with a point guard’s mind. You can run offense through him at the elbows, on the block, at the top of the key, he thinks the game… again very intelligent.”
Williams is great as the roll man and will find a seamless transition into the pick and rolls the Celtics love to run. Eventually, Williams may fill Al Horford’s position of running the offense from the top of the key.
Something all Boston Celtics should be excited to see from him is his relentless play style; he is a great offensive rebounder and works to find soft spots in opposing defenses.
Why Boston Celtics Fans Will Love Grant Williams
Overall, Williams is a tough, strong, smart guy who genuinely wants to be in Boston which, after this past season, is something all Boston Celtics fans desperately need to see.