Boston Celtics

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

1:24 - A. Sherrod Blakely, Brain Scalabrine and Kyle Draper break down the Celtics' selection in the 2018 NBA Draft and are joined by the man who made the pick himself, Danny Ainge.

7:49 - The Nets and Dwight Howard have begun buyout talks, which means the veteran center could soon be a free agent. Michael Holley, Danielle Trotta and Luke Bonner debate if Howard would be a good fit in Boston.

11:59 - Brad Stevens fields questions from the media immediately following the Celtics selection of Williams.

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Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

BOSTON – Danny Ainge went through his customary routine of making calls up and down the draft, looking for any and every opportunity to make a deal that would strengthen the Boston Celtics roster. 

And while he was open to getting a deal done and move away from the team’s late first-round pick, Ainge said he went into Thursday night’s draft intent on standing pat with the 27th overall pick that was used to select Robert Williams.

The past few weeks were spent by Ainge and his front office staff examining what the price would be for them to move up in the draft. 

That price proved to be too steep for Ainge’s liking. 

His assessment afterward?

“We were preparing for the 27th pick,” Ainge said. “We were preparing for opportunities to move up; not all the way to the top of the draft but somewhere in the middle and we were preparing for guys we didn’t like, and move back in the draft. It’s the same thing we do every year, prepare for any situation that comes up.”

But this draft felt different, in part because the Celtics were beginning further back than recent years in which includes Boston having the No. 3 overall pick in back-to-back drafts. 

And just like Boston seemed to get great value out of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum from the last two drafts, they are hoping for continued draft success in adding Williams who at one point was considered a player with lottery (top-14) pick talent. 

“Robert will have opportunities to play, but that will depend on how well he plays, what he does,” Ainge said.

Williams’ head coach Billy Kennedy echoed similar sentiments.

“He’s a special talent,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy told Boston Sports Tonight. “He can do things some of the other guys in the draft can’t do.”

Which made staying patient and not aggressively trying to move up in the draft, a worthwhile decision for Ainge in Boston landing a player that they did not go into the draft anticipating would be available to them if they stood pat with the 27th overall pick.

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Celtics take advantage of Robert Williams slipping to No. 27

Celtics take advantage of Robert Williams slipping to No. 27

BOSTON – The draft seemed to be going according to plan and then … everything changed; at least in the minds of Boston’s front-office just a few picks past the lottery (top-14).

As one name after another was called, there was one – Texas A&M’s Robert Williams – that was inexplicably absent.

And that would prove a good thing for Boston which selected Williams with the 27th overall pick.

“Danny and Mike really started talking about him around 17 or 18,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said shortly after the pick was made. “He’s a really talented guy. There’s a lot of good players out there. Each pick we were hoping more and more he would be available at 27.”

Williams, SEC Defensive Player of the Year in each of his two seasons at Texas A&M, averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds along with 2.6 blocked shots per game. 

But as Stevens pointed out, there’s more to Williams’ game than rebounding and blocking shots. 

“When you look at guys with size and how they can impact the game now, he’s got good feet, he’s a good athlete, he’s got a (7-6) wingspan and he plays way above the rim,” Stevens said. “The ability to block shots, the ability to alter shots, the quickness to catch up to guards shooting if they get a step and still be able to alter that …  and then, if you can have four shooters on the floor and a guy like that rolling to the rim, you can just throw it up in the air and he can go and get it and finish.

Stevens added, “There’s a lot of things he brings to the table. Those are the things that translate sooner rather than later. As he continues to improve and improve his skills we’ll see where that goes. But for right now, he’s an elite athlete with incredible length.”

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