NEW YORK -- So far this season, Grant Williams has taken a total of 21 three-pointers. All have had the same result. A miss.
So, on Saturday, Williams’ 21st birthday, he spent some time after practice working on - what else? - his 3-point shooting.
Despite the 0-for-the-season shooting thus far, Williams remains confident that, in time, the work he’s putting in will pay off for him and the Celtics.
Look no further than Marcus Smart, whose 3-point shooting has improved dramatically the past couple seasons after having been among the worst long-range shooters not only on the Celtics roster but among NBA guards.
The 6-foot-6 Williams will spend most of his time as a player around the basket fighting for rebounds and position against bigger players, but will also need to develop a perimeter game to keep defenses honest and avoid Boston playing 4-on-5 offense when he’s in the game.
Williams, a career 29.1 percent 3-point shooter in college, says remaining confident with his shot even isn’t difficult as long as he continues to shoot the ones that make sense for the offense at that time.
He did that in the preseason, shooting 41.7 percent from 3-point range, which is in part why he’s not worried.
“That’s the biggest thing,” Williams said. “You can’t really worry about your misses, because then you won’t be able to make the next one. So, I’m fine shooting it, and I’ll take another one and it’ll go in; that’s my thoughts on it and the team’s thoughts on it as well.”
Still, Williams has gone back and watched all 21 misses, making note of how they were off the mark and other potential trends that he can do a better job at so that he can finally get off the 3-point schneid.
“If you look at the misses, all of them have been in and out or right on the front of the rim directly on line [except for two],” Williams said. “Only two of them, a rushed one from the left wing that went left and another one, that was a bad miss. But every other one feels pretty good as it left my hand … it’s about keep shooting.”
Among his biggest cheerleaders has been Smart, who has made the transition to being one of the team’s better long-range scoring threats (33.6 percent from 3).
The two have talked about the mental approach to shooting 3’s after struggling with making the shot.
“He’s had my back this whole time,” Williams said of Smart. “He kind of sees me as his, mini-me, when it comes to him and his rookie year and the previous five years in terms of being that glue guy, that offensive guy that wasn’t the scorer that he is now.”
Smart has tried to keep it as simple as possible when doling out advice.
“If you’re open, shoot it,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “The ball can’t go in unless you shoot it. You gotta make the defense respect you. Grant will start knocking some down soon. He works too hard not to.”
And as Smart pointed out, defenses can’t respect your ability to make 3’s unless you take them.
“There’s always the right basketball play to be made,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “So, we all believe that when he’s open and somebody finds him, to step up and shoot the ball. It’s just part of it.
Stevens added, “He’s not used to that, but he will get used to that over time and he’ll be fine. He’s a good shooter. He works hard at it. He’s just in one of those funks where sometimes you just have to see one go through the net.”
Which would be a great belated birthday gift when the Celtics take on the New York Knicks on Sunday.
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Knicks, which tips off Sunday at 3 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.