When talking about Robert Williams, sports clichés abound. He was a key contributor off the bench in the Celtics 117-112 win over the Clippers with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and three blocks and after the game, his teammates and head coach took notice.
Brad Stevens said Williams was “on a great trajectory.”
“The sky is the limit,” Jaylen Brown said of Williams’ potential.
What the compliments may lack in creativity are made up for in sincerity. Without Williams, it’s possible Boston doesn’t win that game. Both Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson played well as starters, but it was Williams who played the most minutes at center in the second half, including over ten minutes in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a major learning experience for me,” Williams said of playing a bulk of his time in the clutch.
The Timelord has always excelled in the extraordinary. Of late, his ability to catch passes anywhere in his vicinity and complete alley-oops has been breathtaking. Here’s one in a key moment against LA:
“It’s the best part about it. You just know if you put it up there, he’s going to go get it,” Kemba Walker said of Williams’ leaping ability. “He’s improved so much. He’s playing great.”
But more importantly, those highlights have become more and more frequent with his increased opportunity. Stevens has been steadily giving Williams more time and the three-year pro has responded. After battling injuries in his first two years in Boston, he’s become a consistent rotation player this season. In February. he averaged nearly seven points, five rebounds, and a block per game in 16 minutes a night.
“Rob’s development since he got here has been really good. We continue to challenge him on staying locked in from game-to-game,” Brown said. “The more he’s on the floor, the better he’s going to get. We’re looking forward to that.”
“I’m not surprising myself at all because I know what I’m capable of. Like I said, it’s coming from being out there, getting the time. I’m not necessarily focused on making the perfect play all the time, just play your game,” Williams said.
For Williams, this chance has been two years in the making. Stevens talked about how his time with Aron Baynes and Al Horford in his rookie season set such a solid foundation for him, but how injuries derailed his sophomore year forcing him to miss 50 games. However, despite lost time, Williams showed potential when he returned in the bubble and for the playoffs. Now, that upside is being converted into production.
“One of the things about Rob that I think sometimes does not get talked about enough is he’s a competitor,” Stevens said. “He wants to win. He plays hard. He goes after rebounds. And he’s learning how to take advantage or the things he does best on both ends of the court.”