Forsberg's Focus: It's time for Timelord to take the next step


*Each weekday for the rest of October, our Chris Forsberg will put a member of the 2019-20 Celtics under the microscope, assessing their season and what the future holds for that player. 


That’s the field goal percentage posted by Robert Williams over his final 10 appearances of the regular season. Zoom in on Boston’s time in the bubble and that number spikes to 84.6 percent — both over Boston’s final six seeding games and his final 10 playoff appearances (in both instances Williams made 22 of 26 shot attempts).

And yet "Timelord" could never quite earn the defensive trust of Celtics coach Brad Stevens, limiting his floor time in the Eastern Conference finals.

What went right for Williams in 2020

When healthy, Williams was an alley-oop-finishing fiend. He averaged 1.3 points per play as the roll man in pick-and-rolls, per Synergy’s tracking data, and that was by far the best number among Celtics players (next closest: Jayson Tatum, 1.18).

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Williams also rebounded well, could spray the ball around as a facilitator in the high post, and unveiled a newfound midrange touch inside the bubble. He always seemed to be knocking on the door of opportunity but ...  

What went wrong for Williams in 2020

Health woes limited his appearances for the second time in as many seasons after the Celtics nabbed him with the 27th pick in 2018 draft. After playing only 32 games in his rookie season, Williams missed three months due to a hip ailment during the 2019-20 season and logged only 29 regular-season appearances overall.


Williams, who put himself on the map with loud volleyball-like blocks, tried to play defense with more discipline this season, but that sometimes left him looking like he was overthinking the game. Williams needs to play more freely and let his natural abilities take over. His troubles defending the pick-and-roll caused his minutes to dry up against Miami in the conference finals.

Best ability is availability

Robert Williams' regular-season games played over his first two seasons.
Robert Williams' regular-season games missed over his first two seasons.

Early outlook for Williams for 2021

Full disclosure: We own more real estate on Timelord Island than anybody and we’re convinced that, with proper nurturing, he can evolve into the perfect big-man complement to this team’s core.

The Celtics leaned heavy on a center-by-committee approach this season and, while it was largely successful due to the diverse nature of talent that Stevens could deploy, it might have conspired against Williams, who had a short leash after defensive miscues.

It’s time for Boston to find out whether Williams can be a consistent rotation presence. That’s on Williams to learn from game tape in this short offseason and it’s on Stevens to allow Williams to play through some of his mistakes.

It’s time, lord.