Fresh off inking a rookie contract extension with the Boston Celtics this past summer, Robert Williams is averaging career highs at 9.4 points and 9.6 rebounds over 30.2 minutes per game while cementing himself as the team’s long-term starting center.
There’s a case to be made that he’s currently Boston’s third best player behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and he might be the most important given how the Celtics don’t have any player like him on the roster.
The Celtics have a team-best net rating of plus-10.7 in Williams’ 423 minutes of court time this season, and that plummets to minus-4.6 in the 471 minutes he’s been off the floor. It’s a big reason why staying healthy is so important for Williams moving forward.
Williams Zoomed into Celtics Post Up on Tuesday to talk about getting back on the court this week after battling knee soreness, must-have Thanksgiving side dishes, and why he ultimately decided to sign a deal to stay in Boston.
A transcript of his visit, edited for clarity and brevity: (Editor's Note: Check out Williams' full interview in the YouTube video below.)
What what it like getting back on the court on Monday night?
RW: “Really just a great feeling, being back out there with my brothers — having [Jaylen Brown] back, obviously — and we've been on a little winning streak, so it was just good to get back out there in front of the fans.”
Last season, Jayson Tatum called you his favorite player to play with. What does that mean to you when you hear that from a superstar player, and why do guys have such good chemistry on the court?
RW: "It just means I'm appreciated, in my eyes. I feel like we got that chemistry because I realized what my job is. My job is to get scorers open, create opportunities for scorers, JT being one of those people. I feel like I try to do it at a high level.”
What did you do this offseason to take a step forward this year?
RW: "I just realized how much they were invested in me. Obviously they chose me, and I wanted to show out. I was given an opportunity so I wanted to go out and enjoy it.”
Tyson Chandler is the NBA’s all-time single-season leader in alley-oop finishes at 133. Before you got hurt, you were on pace to break that record. So what do we have to do to get your teammates to throw you more lobs? Can we get them more practice time on that? And who is the best lob-thrower on the team?
RW: "I have to give it to Marcus (Smart) or Dennis (Schroder). All of them need a little work but I have to give it to Marcus."
Lob Williams, Time Lord — let’s set the record straight here on Celtics Post Up — what is your preferred nickname?
RW: "I mean, I'm cool with Time Lord. It had a big turn so I'm cool with it … But, other than that, it's just Rob. I get Bob sometimes a little bit … But mostly Rob is cool.”
Doesn’t your family call you Boo Butt?
RW: “Yeah but that’s kinda of a family thing. If I don’t really know you, I won’t really answer to you saying that.”
What’s the story behind that nickname?
RW: “My mom said I used to cry — when I used to cry, she used to rock me in the chair and I guess she sort of made up her own song, her own lyrics or whatever. And she just kind of put Boo and Butt together. I don’t know how. But it stuck with me.”
After your extension, you bought your mom a new home back in Louisiana. Will she be hosting for the holidays and what was that like to buy her a new place?
RW: “Yeah, she's for sure gonna be hosting for the holidays. It was a surreal feeling just being able to make that purchase obviously. Take a lot of a lot of pressure off of my my mom. We talk about stuff like this growing up as kids but it’s a reality now so just felt good.”
One of these has to go for Thanksgiving sides — mac and cheese, collard greens, candied yams, or dressing -- which one has to go?
RW: “Oh my god. I gotta go with the yams. I’m sorry.”
On the flip side, what absolutely has to be on Rob Williams' Thanksgiving Day table?
RW: “I’d say the dressing and the mac and cheese. You gotta have the mac and cheese.”
How do you feel about turkey?
RW: “I like turkey, though. Maybe I’m biased but I like turkey. I think it’s cool."
You’ve been a loyal player throughout your basketball travels. Why was it so important to you to sign an extension with Boston?
RW: “I told my agent as soon as the season was over, I want to go back. I want to be back. I feel like we've building something great here with a young core getting stronger and stronger every day.
"And I want to be a part of that celebration when we get to the chance where we raising that banner, I want to be a part of it. To be able to say we went through it all together. It was a big emphasis on me staying."
Why is TD Garden so special to play in?
RW: “The fans. The fans by far. Even they know it’s a brotherhood, it’s more than just a sports team. It’s like all of us together when we were in there, so I feel like the fans by far.”