Celtics

Celtics player spotlight: How Time Lord can put it all together in Year 5

Celtics

The Boston Celtics boasted the best defense in the NBA as they surged to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and made it all the way to the NBA Finals.

While C's guard Marcus Smart was recognized with the Defensive Player of the Year honor, one could argue Robert Williams was the anchor for Boston's defense as the big man made tremendous strides in Year 4 of his career.

Williams, also known as "Time Lord," was one of the Celtics' most important players throughout the 2021-22 season. The 24-year-old finished ninth in the NBA in blocks (91) and 15th in rebounds per game (9.6) while earning Second-Team All-Defense honors. Before suffering a torn meniscus in March, Williams was right there with Smart as a favorite to win the DPOY award.

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A few weeks later, Williams showed his toughness by returning to the Celtics' lineup in the playoffs. He wasn't as explosive on the surgically-repaired left knee, but his presence was a huge factor even with him not being 100 percent.

 

How can Williams make another leap in 2022-23? We continue our player spotlight series with Time Lord's accomplishments last season and where he can improve in Year 5.

Williams' 2021-22 stats

  • Regular season: 10.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 2.0 apg, 73.6 percent FG (61 games)
  • Postseason: 7.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 1.0 apg, 67.9 percent FG, (17 games)

Williams' contract situation

The Celtics signed Williams to a four-year, $54 million contract extension, including $48 million guaranteed in August 2021. The deal will keep Williams under contract with Boston through the 2025-26 campaign.

What role will Williams play on the 2022-23 Celtics?

Last season marked Williams' first season as a full-time starter and he thrived in the new role. The 6-foot-8, 237-pounder stepped up as the stellar rim protector the Celtics have desperately needed the last few years. His efforts on the defensive end earned him national recognition, and he was no slouch offensively either as he was a constant threat to finish off a lob.

Time Lord should assume the same role again next season and as long as he stays healthy, he should once again be in the DPOY conversation.

Williams' 2022-23 season will be a success if ...

... He can stay on the court and duplicate his 2021-22 efforts.

Williams provided exactly what the Celtics needed during their incredible run last season. Not only was he a threat to block any shot near the rim, he also contested his fair share of shots on the perimeter. His defense is one of the main reasons Boston was able to climb to the top of the East standings and compete for an NBA title.

That said, the best ability of all is availability.

The Celtics will hope Williams' knee issues don't carry over into the new season, but that might be wishful thinking. Williams has struggled to stay on the court so far in his young career, though he took a significant step forward with 61 games played before his meniscus tear.

USA TODAY Sports photo

Biggest obstacles to Williams' success

Health.

Plain and simple, the injury bug has been Williams' No. 1 obstacle. It's hard to imagine that changing, given that he's at his best when he's explosive. That style of play is bound to result in injuries, especially for a player with a history of knee issues.

We probably can rule out Williams playing a full 82-game schedule, but a solid 70 should be the goal for him next season. That would be a pleasant surprise.

Projected stats, prediction for Williams' 2022-23 season

Projected stats: 11.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 2.2 apg, 74 percent FG (65 games)

If healthy, Williams should once again be a force for the Celtics and a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate. While our projected stats above are only marginally better than his 2021-22 numbers, we wouldn't be surprised if he reaches another level in his development.

To do that, Williams will need to continue working on his mid-range shot and one-on-one defense in the post. If he enters the 2022-23 campaign with those skills under his belt, he should be an even bigger asset for Ime Udoka moving forward.