Can you say Landlord? I knew you could.
Quick aside to explain the title. One of my favorite Eddie Murphy skits from his SNL days was Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood where he frequently talked about his landlord. "Landlord" happens to be Shelden Williams' nickname. Oh and one more layer: Recently Williams tweeted that someone mistook him for David Robinson. Of course David Robinson had those great Nike commercials also titled "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood."
See it all makes sense ...at least in my head. Anyhoo...
The Celtics signed Shelden Williams right around the time when Leon Powe was deciding to play for the Cavs. We can only assume the two transactions were related and that Williams is being brought in to be Leon's replacement (for a full season instead of just the partial one Powe is expected to to play). But don't hold that against Shelden. It isn't his fault he's replacing a popular player.
So the question remains, can the guy play? Will he be any help this year or is he simply an insurance policy?
After staring at Duke, Shelden was drafted too high by the Hawks in 2006 and promptly dropped completely off my radar. Turns out he bounced around a bit before landing in Boston. One of his stints was in Sacramento, so I thought I'd ask Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty for a quick scouting report. Here's what he said.
The Landlord made his name in college on defense: Shel owned the paint, and he alone decided who else was allowed to be in there. In the NBA, that hasn't exactly translated well. While Ben Wallace was able to defend centers ably despite his height, Williams can't quite hang with 7-footers. So he's stuck defending similarly undersized power forwards, which is does well, but which isn't a terribly big priority, especially in the East (or against the long Lakers).
On offense, Williams is a walking disaster. Mikki Moore is a better offensive player than Shel. That's not an endorsement. For either player.
Williams will give the Celtics solid rebounding while he's in (though KG and Perk do that as well). But Boston will need at least three offensive impresarios on the floor with him to stay afloat, if history is any judge. Luckily, Boston has the scoring horses Sacramento and Atlanta (and Minnesota) did not.
So there you have it. Ironically, he may be ideally suited to defend the guy that he replaced.
I'm going to slot this into the low-risk, high potential reward category. Last year that role was played by Patrick O'Bryant who was tall and lazy. In those respects Shelden would appear to be the anti-POB. He'll work hard, fight for rebounds, and give us a little extra depth at a position that we were very thin at last year.
Oh yeah, and he's married to WNBA star Candace Parker. So he's got that going for him, ...which is nice.