Celtics

20 Under 25: Will Grant Williams surpass expectations with Celtics?

20 Under 25: Will Grant Williams surpass expectations with Celtics?

All Grant Williams did in college was produce, produce... and then produce more. The 20-year-old was named SEC Player of the Year in both of his final two years at Tennessee, and was a consensus First Team All-American this past season, when he averaged 18.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.1 spg and 1.5 bpg. 

Despite his young age, many experts think he’ll be able to impact winning for the Celtics, in some way, as early as this season. A lot of that is due to his grown man strength and his thick/jacked frame.

Williams weighs in at an efficient 240 lbs — he has only 5.4% body fat — and has outlier strength. His 20 bench press reps at the NBA combine were the most in over five years. His bone-crunching screens alone should be enough to earn him minutes as a rookie.

But Williams is more than a massive meat sandwich. The kid can hoop, and he loves to win. Not only did he improve his own stats every year in college, his team’s winning percentage improved every year as well.

He’s also smart. He passed up Harvard to go to Tennessee; plus, his mom works at NASA, so don’t expect any flat-Earth nonsense from him. 

So why did he fall to the Celtics at pick No. 22 in this summer’s NBA Draft? His height probably had something to do with it, as he’s only 6’7” with shoes (ironically, he measured almost exactly the same as Draymond Green at the combine … just sayin’). He also didn’t hit threes at a high clip in college, but he’s not a coward; he’ll shoot them when open. His free throw percentage went up every year in school, so there’s a chance he hones his jumper enough to be a threat from the perimeter. I wouldn’t bet against him. 

His range of outcomes seems to be somewhere between a ‘Jared Sullinger who cares’ and an ‘in-shape Draymond Green’. His silly personality means his floor is at least Guerschon Yabusele with actual basketball talent.

Either way, there’s no reason to think Grant Williams won’t continue to produce, produce and produce some more for years to come.

Click here to see this year's candidates for the 20 Under 25 list

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Celtics' Jaylen Brown gives interesting insight on how his contract extension got done

Celtics' Jaylen Brown gives interesting insight on how his contract extension got done

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown signed a four-year, $115 million extension in October, putting to rest questions about what his restricted free agency could have looked like this summer.

Brown wasn't always confident he and the Celtics would reach a contract agreement before October's deadline, however. The 23-year-old star recently appeared on the "Woj Pod", hosted by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, where he gave an in-depth look into the process. In the end, the Celtics presented Brown an offer that he didn't want to pass up.

“To be honest, I came with the mindset I didn’t think that anything was going to get done,” Brown told Wojnarowski. “I wasn’t sure that anything was going to get done. The first offer was four years, $80 million. I didn’t think they were going to budge from that.

"So, I came with the mindset, I told (agent Jason) Glushon that, ‘Let’s see what can happen, you know?’ For me, I didn’t think Jason was going to be able to get anything done. I thought they were going to stay at ($80 million) and that was going to be it. I was hell-bent, I was already locked in, focused, ready to carry the weight that I was going to go into this year playing my fourth year out. And then they jumped up, and that just showed they wanted me here in the organization. They appreciated my value. They thought that I added to winning. It was an offer that was too hard to kind of turn down.”

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Brown wasn't the only notable player from the 2016 draft class to sign a lucrative extension.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons and Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray both signed five-year deals worth $170 million. Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam signed for four years and $130 million. New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, who was drafted between Simmons (No. 1 overall) and Brown (No. 3 overall) was the only star player from the class who didn't reach an extension.

A lot of players ease up a bit and don't play with a sense of urgency after securing their first huge contract. Brown has been the opposite.

He's playing at an All Star level for the Celtics this season, and his per game averages of 20 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists all are career highs. Brown leads the Celtics with six games of 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds. He also has 19 games of 20-plus points, which beats his previous career high of 17 such games in 2017-18.

The NBA is all about two-way wings these days. Many of the league's best players fit this mold, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo (who also can play center). The Celtics have two of the rising stars at this position in Brown and Jayson Tatum. They aren't at the level of the veterans previously mentioned, but they have a pretty good chance to be one of basketball's best duos for a long time.

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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Lakers, which begins Monday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

In Boston, there's one thing everyone can agree on

In Boston, there's one thing everyone can agree on

You’ve probably heard that America is divided like never before. Neighbors are fighting, parents and kids aren’t talking to each other, and the Internet, which was supposed to bring us all together, has only made the division worse. 

Well, there’s good news. There is one thing that the vast majority of American’s can agree on … screw the Lakers!

That’s right, according to science, the Lakers are the most hated team in the country.

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The hatred (and to be clear, this is not real hate, it’s sports hate) is understandable in Boston. There’s history between the two most storied franchises in the NBA. The Celtics and Lakers have met 12 times in the NBA Finals, and in case you were wondering, the C's hold a 9-3 edge in those championship series.

Twelve matchups for the ultimate prize has understandably bred hatred between the two fan bases, but why does everyone else hate L.A.? It’s hard to say for sure, but it might have something to do with the Lakers being a free agent destination despite being one of the worst run franchises in the entire league over the last 10 years. It might be their entitled fans who think every good player will ultimately sign with them. It could just be that Dwight Howard is on the team.

Whatever the reason, despite our divided nation, America can agree that the Lakers are the worst.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Lakers, which begins Monday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.