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Is Robert Williams growing right before our eyes?

Time Lord showed a new offensive development in Sunday’s loss to the Nuggets.

LA Clippers v Boston Celtics Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Listen, I know I’m about to aggressively overreact.

I’m going to talk about a seemingly routine reverse layup and how it might somehow foreshadow a previously inconceivable offensive development for Robert Williams. I get it… I’m a basketball sicko. But, just let me have my moment, and let me explain why I think Time Lord might make a leap that few could have ever imagined.

With two minutes left in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Nuggets, Rob Williams planted himself on the right block with solid post position. He had only Bones Hyland – a mediocre defender at best – in between him and the rim. There’s no rim protector in the paint, and Vlatko Cancar isn’t exactly the most intimidating help-side defender; he has a 29 inch vertical leap, so a contest at the rim would likely result in the unfortunate end of a poster, especially against a leaper like Rob.

Okay, now check out what Williams does when he’s fed the ball. No, your eyes are not fooling you, and this is, in fact, a meaningful regular season NBA game – not some Saturday morning, offseason pickup run made into a 20-minute hype video on social media.

Weird, right? Timelord catches the ball, faces up, and realizes that he has a massive mismatch. That doesn’t normally mean that he’ll go to the rim looking to score. I mean, he’s Rob Williams. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I saw him attack the rim with the goal of scoring. He’s usually slipping out of a screen and rolling to the rim – or, if he somehow does make any sort of dribble move towards the hoop, he’s likely getting to two feet and kicking it out to a shooter on the perimeter once he realizes that a finish in that situation just isn’t in his bag.

Here, though, Rob shows us something new. He takes a lefty dribble and makes a really strong pickup on his way to a beautiful righty finish on the left side of the rim. It’s a decisive, confident move to the hoop, and it nearly brought me to tears.

What Could This Mean?

We know what Rob can do offensively. He has typically used his incredible athletic ability (mostly his leaping and 2nd and sometimes 3rd jump) to be a solid roller, lob threat, and offensive rebounder. He also has some decent passing chops, throwing cross-court passes with great pace, accuracy, and vision. That being said, though, he’s not someone you’d expect to create offense for himself or others. And, that’s fine, because the Celtics have enough guys that can do that.

Now, I’m not saying that we’re going to start to see this side of Rob Williams all the time now or that he’s going to become a focal point of the C’s offense. That would be irrational – and quite frankly, concerning – for me to assume that after one highlight play. But, this is a promising sign for Timelord’s offensive future.

I mostly think of short-roll playmaking and scoring as the next phase of Rob’s development. With so many deadly ball-handler scorers on the Celtics, the hard-hedge or trap could be a defensive scheme that opposing teams employ. In those situations, the short roll is an incredibly effective counter; you need a guy who can catch the ball, turn, and make a quick decision about whether to attack the rim or kick out to open shooters (Draymond Green, Nikola Jokic, and many others have made this a core part of their offensive skill set). If Rob can develop that part of his game, he’ll be an even more unique weapon, and he’ll be in for an even larger payday the next time his contract is up.

So, yeah. I’m probably overreacting – we might not even see this sort of offensive confidence from Rob again this season. But, it still got me excited to see how he progresses over the next few years. He’s only 25 years old by the way, so a total offensive transformation is not completely out of the question.

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