Usually, when rookies get tasked with addressing a crowd, it’s the veterans putting a young player in an awkward situation. But Grant Williams isn’t your typical rookie.
Taking the stage at the Celtics’ Shamrock Foundation Gala on Thursday night, Williams and teammate Enes Kanter were tasked with saying hello and setting the agenda for the evening. In the blink of an eye, Williams convinced the crowd to sing an impromptu version of "Happy Birthday" to Vincent Poirier, then led an auction chant that quick raised $75,000 for charity.
Yes, Williams brings an undeniable poise and energy to everything that he does, including when he’s on the basketball court. That’s why the 22nd pick from June’s draft is likely to have an immediate opportunity to earn playing time in Boston. It also helps his cause that good things tend to happen when he’s on the court (and, evidently, the mic, too).
It’s a successful season for Williams if…
…he remains a plus/minus monster like we saw at summer league and again in the preseason. Williams does a little bit of everything and, while it’s unfair to expect him to replace Al Horford’s contributions, he can bring a bit of what the team lost in screening, passing, and simply making the right play. Williams shot the ball well beyond the 3-point arc (41.7 percent) in the preseason, an encouraging sign for a player that shot 29.1 percent from distance for his college career. If he ultimately proves he can joust with NBA bigs despite giving up size, the 6-foot-6 (without shoes) Williams can carve out a role in this new-look frontcourt.
It’s a disappointing season for Williams if…
…his size becomes an issue against NBA bigs. The preseason was an encouraging glimpse but how does Williams hold up against a team like Philadelphia with its Horford/Joel Embiid front line? Williams has brought a lightheartedness to the team since his arrival and it’d be a disappointment if he lost any of that youthful exuberance for any reason.
Williams impacts the game in so many ways that it’s easy to see him carving out a role, and one that might grow as the season goes on. Williams has got a bit of PJ Tucker in him and he’s probably as close to a Horford-type big as the team has. Celtics coach Brad Stevens has already said Williams will have a long NBA career and his basketball IQ alone will distinguish him among his rookie peers.
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