Grant Williams got the memo.
With Ime Udoka and the coaching staff emphasizing pace and versatility in training camp, Williams set out last summer to transform his body and game.
Williams’ calling card coming out of Tennessee was his ability to play multiple positions. As a rookie, he gained weight to be able to defend NBA centers and was fairly successful in the Orlando bubble. Now, he’s shifting gears a bit. He’s officially listed at 6’6”, 236 pounds, but after hiring a personal chef in the offseason and working on his conditioning, he’s lost nearly 15 pounds and he’s not done.
“My rookie year, I had to gain weight to play the 5. Then I never lost that weight. Now, I’ve lost 12-15 pounds. I’ve got another 8-10 to lose to be able to play the 4 more,” Williams said at Media Day. “I want to be like a ‘Baby Al’.”
So far, it sounds like the plan is working.
“Grant looks good. Grant looks great,” Jaylen Brown said. “He’s moving well. His timing is on point. I’m super excited for Grant this season. I’m looking forward to see the improvements he’s made in the offseason.”
Williams finished last year hitting 48 out of his 129 three-pointers (37.2%). That’s obviously going to be one of his weapons as he looks to draw bigger defenders out of the paint. But don’t think that he’ll be relegated to the corners.”
“It’s allowed me to dunk the ball,” Grant joked after Saturday’s practice.
With Al Horford back in the fold and Robert Williams taking on more responsibility at the center position, Grant Williams may not need to play as many small ball 5 minutes going forward. Instead, he’ll join a army of interchangeable wings that can play 2 through 4 and compete for minutes with Romeo Langford, Juancho Hernangomez, and Jabari Parker. Per Celtics.com’s Amanda Pflugrad, he’s “been a lot more active, float on the wing...”
“I’m moving like a butterfly, stinging like a bee a little bit,” Williams said.
For Williams, this could be a more difficult transition. He was more a bruiser in college and could occasionally overpower smaller players on the block in his first two seasons. Being able to hang with wings on the perimeter is a far different assignment. That’s not “baby Al” territory, but for the third-year pro, he knows that to get playing time, he’ll have to be more versatile than he’s ever been before.
“You want be a threat at all times, so that they don’t feel like they can be a matchup advantage against you, so that’s something I continually work on,” Williams said at Media Day. “At the end of the day, I’m going to play towards the role that I’m asked to play. Whatever that is, whatever the team needs, that’s what I’ll be.”
Rumble, young man, rumble.