BRIGHTON -- When it comes to explaining why Robert Williams III slipped so far into the first round, one of the constant knocks against him was that his effort wasn’t nearly as consistent as it needed to be.
“People question my motor a lot,” Williams III said during his introductory press conference to the Boston media on Friday. “I work hard and I know I can work hard.”
Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, has heard a similar narrative about Williams III, who was selected with the 27th overall pick by the Celtics.
And his thoughts on Williams’ questionable motor?
“It’s hard to have a low motor if you’re Defensive Player of the Year two years in a row in a tough conference,” Ainge said. “That’s a hard thing to do.”
Williams, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year during each of his two seasons with Texas A&M, was one of the nation’s best shot-blockers the past two seasons. So the kid knows a thing or two about timing.
And his timing in joining the Celtics couldn't be better.
One of the concerns with Williams III has been his maturity, something he and his family point to as reasons why he did not enter the draft last year despite being projected as a lottery (top-14) pick.
“He needed to go back to school and mature some more,” his father told NBC Sports Boston. “Coming back for a second year was really good for him.”
He joins a Celtics team that, while relatively young, does have a core group of veteran leaders led by Al Horford.
Williams III said he had a chance to meet Horford earlier this week and plans to soak up as much knowledge of the game from Horford as he can.
“What’s the most interesting part about his game, is Al, he doesn’t rush,” Williams III said. “He takes his time. Just studying his game . . . ”
And the message that resonates most from his brief time around Horford?
“Just work hard,” Williams III said.
Williams arrives at a time when the Celtics are knee-deep in trying to bolster a roster that’s already built to contend for a title. One of the many challenges awaiting him is proving his value, not relative to his draft class but to his teammates who are wired to compete at the highest levels night-in, night-out.
And it’s that focus on being consistent that ranks high among the many questions surrounding Williams, a player most agree comes into the NBA with lottery-pick talent that is at times overshadowed by a questionable effort level.
That’s what the next few weeks and months will be about: Developing the kind of habits both on and off the court that will enable him to be more than just another warm body on the bench.