Grant Williams has already become a favorite on this Celtics team during his first year in the league. He always knows what to say at all the right times, and his smile can light up any room he walks into. This off-court likability has quickly won over most of Celtics Nation. Even with all this love, his on-court game still has a long ways to go if he wants to continue to grow in the NBA.
Williams has the intangibles of the game down to a science. He is at the right spot at the right time and has that basketball IQ that still gets him quality minutes under Brad Stevens. However, these skills will only get you so far, especially on a playoff contender like the Celtics. The restrictions of his game come on the offensive end. He is only averaging 2.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game in 14.8 minutes of play. The biggest glaring hole on his stat sheet, however, is the ugly 0-22 from three-point range.
At first glance, people would quickly assume he does not have a jump shot at all and cast him off as a bruiser inside. Well, for Grant Williams, he was drafted as both a gritty bruiser down low and as someone who could offer a decent jump shot. At the University of Tennessee, Williams was just that. He got the majority of his points as a grinder in the paint, but also, during his final season, extended his range a bit taking almost double the amount of three-point attempts as the year prior. Last season at Tennessee, Williams shot 32.6% from three-point range. It is nothing too impressive, but it is some kind of evidence he can shoot a three ball.
If Grant Williams can greatly improve this part of his game, his outlook as an NBA player will have a whole new ceiling. In Summer League and preseason, he was taking and making threes at an impressive level. In Summer League (taking this with a grain of salt), he shot 7-for-19 from three-point range having one game going 4-for-5. The preseason was a bit closer to what we are seeing now but still are getting glimpses of Williams grooving into his shot.
The reason why this shot is so crucial for his development is how Stevens is using him in most sets the Celtics run. It is perfectly shown with this clip from the preseason. Most of the regular season, Williams sets out wide as a decoy in the corner that spreads the floor. As you can see, this works well if he can make this corner three, however, the problem in the regular season will quickly grow larger if teams start sagging off Williams knowing he cannot make the knock down three. Once this starts happening, his use on the floor will diminish and Stevens will start decreasing his minutes.
Williams has the rhythm and jump shot to be able to at least be a serviceable three-point shooter. He does so many other things right on the court to where a streaky shooter can fit in with some lineups. The main key for him is to not get bent out of shape and continue to let the three-pointers fly. He needs to allow himself to find the three-point line and fire off attempts until they start falling. This clip below is exactly what the Celtics are looking for with Grant Williams.
This catch-and-shoot role is something Williams never worked on in his years at Tennessee. Those three-point attempts were not drawn up for him, so this shooting mentality is clearly still taking some time to settle in. These shots will start to fall for Grant Williams. He is putting in the work it takes to fit into this new role which he is not accustomed to. Even as his patience may be wearing thin, it will only take one three-point bucket for the pressure to release, and he can be more comfortable. Williams needs to continue the confidence he has and let them fly.
Grant Williams, who still has yet to make an NBA three-pointer (0 for 22), getting some shots up. pic.twitter.com/Z2vHClJv0a— Nicole Yang (@nicolecyang) December 3, 2019
With all that being said, Grant Williams is still a great player that will contribute to this Celtics team. He, again, brings intangibles and gritty effort that cannot be replicated by many guys in the league. The three-point shot is frustrating now, but once he hits a few, he will get his rhythm. The only direction for him is up. If he can unlock this missing three-point shot, Grant Williams will hit another level as an NBA rookie on this Celtics team.