Grant Williams

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who will be the Celtics' most impactful rookie?

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who will be the Celtics' most impactful rookie?

When the Boston Celtics open training camp next month, they will have a whopping eight first-year players on the court. That number will include four drafted rookies, two summer league standouts on camp invitations, an undrafted two-way player, and a European import.

In the fourth installment of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to pick which of those rookies will have the biggest impact on the Celtics during the 2019-20 season.

Boston drafted four rookies in Romeo Langford (14th overall), Grant Williams (22), Carsen Edwards (33), and Tremont Waters (51). They later signed undrafted swingman Max Strus to one of their two-way deals, while summer league standouts Javonte Green and Tacko Fall are coming to camp with a chance to compete for a final roster spot. The Celtics also signed French 7-footer Vincent Poirier to add another body to their frontcourt.

That’s a lot of youth and inexperience but, then again, only four Celtics players have more than three years of NBA experience overall in Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, and Enes Kanter. Which is to say that there will be plenty of opportunities for younger players to make an immediate impact if they prove themselves ready for immediate minutes.

Typically, you might lean towards the lottery pick but Langford missed all of summer league while rehabbing from thumb surgery and will be playing a bit of catchup when camp opens.

Given Boston’s new-look frontcourt following the departure of Al Horford and Aron Baynes, it would seem a solid bet to suggest that Grant Williams or Poirier might have the clearest path to contributing. As you’ll read below, our panel leaned heavy in that direction and we’d probably be inclined to agree with their pick.

But we could also make the case for Edwards, an elite bucket-getter at the college level who showed at summer league that he’s not bashful about getting up shots. The departure of Terry Rozier could open an opportunity for backup guard minutes and if Edwards can give a little offensive jolt to the second unit, he could carve out minutes.

Scoring against rotation NBA players won’t be as easy as it was against rookies and roster hopefuls at summer league but Edwards can create his own shot, brings some rugged defense, and will have a chance to stake his claim for backcourt minutes.

Abby Chin: Grant Williams

The Celtics need all the help they can get in the frontcourt. The opportunity is there. And I feel like there’s a lot of hype surrounding the smart, versatile, if a little undersized, Tennessee product. I’m expecting big things.

 

A. Sherrod Blakely: Grant Williams

The team's lack of depth and overall uncertainty in the frontcourt means all their bigs, Grant Williams included, will get a chance to play. He won't wow us with his numbers but his basketball savvy will come in handy on some nights and play a role in the Celtics winning more games than most anticipate.

 

Max Lederman: Grant Williams

Williams already has an NBA body (strength wise, at least) and is a smart, winning player. I was also really impressed with his willingness to let the game come to him in summer league, which shows me he'll be fine in whatever role the team asks him to play. He's also a concrete wall setting screens.

Countdown to C's Camp: Awards predictions>>>

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Celtics' Grant Williams unhappy with NBA 2K for leaving out Tacko Fall

Celtics' Grant Williams unhappy with NBA 2K for leaving out Tacko Fall

Boston Celtics rookie Grant Williams has a bone to pick with the folks over at 2K Sports.

Apparently, C's phenom Tacko Fall isn't included in the new "NBA 2K20" video game. That didn't sit well with Williams, who took to Twitter on Monday to express his displeasure.

In fairness to 2K, Fall still has to battle for Boston's 15th roster spot. The 7-foot-7 UCF product will have his work cut out for him as he competes for that spot with former Xavier forward Kaiser Gates.

That being said, Williams' "uproar" is warranted. Tacko quickly turned into a fan favorite after joining the Celtics in Summer League. So much so, that the Senegal native drew more 2019 Rookie of the Year votes than No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. It has to be a major letdown for any C's fan who loads up "NBA 2K20" without the option to have Tacko in the frontcourt.

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Gordon Hayward 'really impressed' with work ethic of Celtics rookies

Gordon Hayward 'really impressed' with work ethic of Celtics rookies

There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the new-look Boston Celtics for the 2019-20 season. The collection of young talent acquired in this year's NBA Draft is one of those reasons.

The C's used their four draft picks on Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Carsen Edwards, and Tremont Waters back in June, and they're already contributing to the team's improved chemistry before their rookie years get underway.

Gordon Hayward has spent plenty of time with the young guns at the Auerbach Center during the offseason, and the 29-year-old veteran loves what he's seen out of them thus far.

"Being at the facility I’ve seen them all,” Hayward told reporters following the Boston Celtics and Arbella Insurance Home Makeover Program on Tuesday. “I’m really impressed with their work ethic and I’m just excited about the year.”

In-between workouts at the practice facility, the rookies also have built chemistry this summer with late-night video gaming and FaceTiming. Hey, whatever works, right?

Along with the draftees, Hayward is excited to welcome Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter to Boston. There's no doubt there's optimism surrounding this group, especially with four of the Celtics' stars (Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart) getting a headstart on their chemistry building with Team USA at the FIBA World Cup.

The C's regular season begins on Oct. 23 vs. the 76ers in Philadelphia.

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