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Tale of two rookies: can Carsen Edwards or Grant Williams contribute immediately?

With nearly half the Celtics roster in their rookie season, Edwards and Williams could be in line for playing time right away.

2019 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images

Which rookie will have a bigger impact: Grant Williams or Carsen Edwards?

Jack Noonan: I believe Grant Williams will have the biggest impact as a rookie because of the lack of depth in the front court. With the Celtics shifting big men around, I think Williams has a great chance to get the early minutes to have a big impact. He will show out early and impress Stevens and the staff for continued opportunity. What are your thoughts about Carsen Edwards?

Bill Sy: I love that both guys are decorated three-year college players that have figured out what they do well on the court. That doesn’t mean they can’t get better, but they have a good sense going into their rookie year how to affect a game. At 6’0, Edwards might be a little undersized, but he’s strong. He’s already got the range to stretch an NBA defense and the speed and body to attack around the key. He should be able to plug and play on Day One.

Jack Noonan: Yeah, I definitely agree. Both players are exciting and ready to be on the NBA stage. Another thing that may set Grant Williams apart is the way he can rebound the ball that will be vital for this Celtics roster. Each possession will be critical for the team, and Williams can be the guy who can extend possession. In college, he knew how to attack the boards on both ends of the court. He averaged 7.5 rebounds per game his junior year which is impressive playing at his size. Similar to Edwards, Williams will have to use his tenacity and smarts to play his undersized position well.

Bill Sy: Here’s my thing with Williams and maybe it’s less about Williams than it is about bigs in Brad’s offensive system. For the most part, the most successful 5’s are system quarterbacks, bigs that can stretch the floor with their shooting and make plays off the dribble or with the pass. Horford was far and away the best version of that with maybe Olynyk a distant second. I think Williams could be the heir apparent, but it’s going to take time.

Boston Celtics Hold Introductory Press Conference For Draft Picks Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Jack Noonan: It’s a good way to look at it. I think he has a great shot of extending his shot and turning into that player sooner than expected. We saw a little of that transition in summer league where Williams was more open to taking a longer shot to extend defenses and knowing his role. It’s signs like this where I feel better about him playing good minutes for the Celtics.Where do you think Carsen Edwards fits in with the rotation on this roster? That’s my biggest concern of him reaching his potential. The minutes just may not be there for him.

Bill Sy: We know the merry-go-round the Celtics will be at center. Brown, Tatum, Hayward, and Smart will be rotating at the 2,3 and 4. I think that leaves a spot with Kemba as a ball handler and an off ball shooter. Wanamaker will get a shot as a returning vet, but Edwards’ potential as a fire thrower off the bench will be just too enticing.We’ve seen Brown, Tatum, and Smart eat up minutes at power forward and center for Team USA. There’s a logjam with Timelord, Kanter, Theis, and Poirier. Where’s the Williams playing time coming from?

Jack Noonan: I think he’s best bet will be playing the 4 next to Kanter or Robert Williams going with the double Williams front court. Out of those four guys you listed, only Poirier can be agile enough to consistently stay with bigs. Because of that, I think him and Grant Williams will be the defensive options for bigs down low when the team goes either big or small. Williams will be more comfortable and play next to a more traditional center. I think that’ll be his best opportunity to get minutes on this team then earning his spot over the other bigs on the roster.

Bill Sy: What hurdles do you see for Edwards?

Jack Noonan: Edwards is going to find that the style of play he brings from college will be a difficult transition into the league. The defense will be at a higher level and the heat check mind set will have to be tempered as a bench role player. Edwards’ main goal should be to be as efficient as possible for the team because he will not be putting up the volume of shots we saw him take at Purdue. He will need to play to his ability with the minutes he’s given and build from that. There is a spot for him on the team, but it just will not be what we saw from him in college.

Bill Sy: That’s a fair point, but I don’t think Stevens will ask Edwards to be who he’s not. He won’t “temper” him on the second unit; they’ll pour gasoline on Arson Edwards (insert fire emoji). There will be nights when he just doesn’t have it, because yes, defenses will be geared to stop him, but my guess is that it’ll be green lights from the start of training camp to the end of the season. If we’ve learned anything from the Terry Rozier Experience, it’s that Stevens allows for a long leash, particularly when it comes to guards.

Jack Noonan: That’s a good point. It is a role Edwards can gel into nicely. I really do feel like both these guys are experienced enough to know their strengths and weaknesses fully and will not too get carried away as rookies. They know how to play team basketball and contribute when necessary without the pressures or expectations that you see with one-and-dones. With improvements from each player, both could have major contributions in their first year.

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