The Boston Celtics have undergone some significant roster transition this offseason. But arguably, their most unsettled position is center.
This offseason, the Celtics traded Aron Baynes to open up cap space to get Kemba Walker while Al Horford joined the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency. Though those two key bigs are no longer on the roster, they could still have an impact on the team.
In a recent interview, second-year center Robert Williams spoke about learning from Horford and Baynes as a rookie, and he feels that he picked up some skills from them.
"Al isn’t the fastest person, but one thing that always amazed me about him was any time he got the ball, even if you knew what he was doing, it’s effective as hell," Williams said per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. "I kind of took to that. He taught me how to really put an emphasis on my moves.
“And watching Baynes showed me the importance of just going straight up on defense instead of swiping down. Honestly, I don’t even always have to block it. Making them alter it is a great solution too.”
Williams clearly carried over some of these tips into the 2019 summer league, where he averaged 9.0 points and 9.8 rebounds in just under 20 minutes per game in four outings. Williams particularly emulated Baynes' defensive prowess, as he averaged 1.8 blocks per game and showed an affinity for making players uncomfortable near the rim.
With the Celtics' uncertainty at center, it's possible that Williams could emerge as a contributor if he can be the interior defender and scorer that he was during summer league. He will battle Enes Kanter, Daniel Theis, and Vincent Poirier for playing time and could be a perfect defensive-minded counterpart to the projected starter Kanter.
And if Williams can step up and offer some of the skills that Baynes and Horford offered, that could help to lessen the blow of losing the duo.
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