Here’s a take: Robert Williams is ready. It’s dangerous to put too much stock into what are effectively garbage time minutes, but if you’re better than most of the backups, that’s got to be a good sign, right? Think of all the first round picks around the league right now who are busting their butt just to make any impression at all on their coaches just for the chance to crack into the rotation of a middling .500 record team. Robert Williams is humiliating those guys, along with some players that have had their share of time on an NBA floor already (hello, Frank Kaminsky).
My greatest pet peeve is a center who fumbles the ball constantly. Williams plays like he superglued duct tape to his palms for rebounding purposes, which is exactly the dedication and coordination I like to see. While Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis are ahead of him on the depth chart, what’s the long-term plan for the Celtics at that position? Baynes is on a two-year deal with a player option, and Theis is on a super-cheap deal. Should Williams emerge as a force in the paint, the minutes are his for the taking.
Williams has intangibles that can’t be taught. Freak athleticism aside, he’s got the defensive instinct to plug into the NBA right away. Here’s his perimeter block on Malik Monk to seal his second preseason game. (play starts at 1:33)
Maybe I’m overthinking it, but I love this sequence. Frank Kaminksy sets a decoy screen, for lack of a better term, where he sets his feet for just second before rolling to the rim. Williams doesn’t over-commit to the initial opportunity to switch when Kaminksy runs to set the screen, and then doesn’t commit to chasing Kaminsky at all when Dozier follows him. As soon as Monk pulls up, he pounces on the shot. It wasn’t perfectly executed by Charlotte, but Williams read it like a book. The unselfish pass to Yabusele to end the night was a nice touch as well.
The block party continued against Cleveland:
If this isn’t a reason to get hyped, I don’t know what is. Every year we hear about impressive draft workouts and how they affect a player’s stock. And yet, we brush off preseason performances as ‘preseason performances’. I’ll take on-court results over empty-gym workouts any day, and that’s why I’m optimistic about Williams. My prediction is that he’ll find his way into some rotation minutes before long, likely surpassing some crowd favorite and cult heroes on the depth chart – Semi Ojeleye, Guerschon Yabusele, and the like.