For the first time in his career, Williams enters the 2021-22 season with the chance to lead the team in center minutes. The three-year veteran has fought through maturity issues and nagging injuries to finally, hopefully, dominate the key for Boston. Williams flashed brief displays of brilliance in 2020-21. For instance, in early April, he posted 20 points, nine boards, eight dimes and two blocks in a win over woeful Houston. In Game 1 of the playoffs versus the Nets, Williams delivered 11 points, nine boards and nine eye-popping blocks. His per-36-minutes line last season was 15.2 points, 13.1 boards and 3.3 blocks. The Celtics would be very happy to receive a hearty fraction of that production. With Daniel Theis in Chicago and Tristan Thompson in Sacramento, the starting center spot is wide open. Sure, Boston brought back 35-year-old Al Horford. But after rough stints in Philly and OKC, it's possible he Big Al will be happy to be a mentor. At his presser this summer, Horford said about Williams "I'm going to be in his ear, and we are going to be figuring things out together." The main thing holding Williams back is his health. Injuries forced the big center to play in only 32 games his rookie year, 29 games in 2019-20 and 52 of 72 games in 2020-21. If Williams can avoid the injury bug, he should experience a break out season in 2021-22. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a four-year, $48 million contract extension with the Celtics in August of 2021.
Personal Bio/PreCareer Summary
Robert Lee Williams III was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1997. He's the son of Robert and Tundra Williams and has one sister, Brittanni. He emerged as a top recruit while playing for coach Ron Meikle at North Caddo High School in Vivian, Louisiana. He came out of high school as the No. 1 ranked recruit in the state.
In college at Texas A&M, Williams majored in recreation, park and tourism science. During Williams' rookie seaon, Celtics fans nicknamed Williams the "Time Lord," though GM Danny Ainge preferred "Lob." Follow the big shot blocker via @williams.lll on Instagram and @rob_williamsIII on twitter. Robert Williams played two seasons at Texas A&M before joining the Celtics. For both seasons, Williams was paired with fellow big man Tyler Davis, appearing together in unique two-center lineups for the Aggies. During Williams' freshman season (2016-17), the Aggie started 17 of 31 games, averaging 11.9 points, 8.2 boards and an impressive 2.5 blocks per contest. Williams earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Second Team All-SEC accolades. As a sophomore, Williams would start 23 of 30 games, increasing his rebounding (9.2 per game) and his blocks (2.6 per contest). The big man's solid contributions helped Texas A&M reach the Sweet 16 in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Williams ended his sophomore year by garnering Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors as well as USBWA All-District VII accolades.
Doesn't see floor in Game 7 win
May 15, 2022
Williams (knee) was available to play in Sunday's Game 7 against Milwaukee, but he did not see the floor.
ANALYSIS After missing Games 4, 5 and 6 with irritation in his knee, Williams was cleared to return for Game 7, but coach Ime Udoka opted not to use the big man, instead rolling with Grant Williams alongside Al Horford for most of the afternoon. Williams may still have some rust to shake off -- that likely factored into the decision to keep him on the bench -- but he should be available in full capacity for Tuesday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami.
Even though Jordan Poole's production has dropped the last two games, Juan Carlos Blanco thinks he has a chance to return to form.
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Might play in Game 7
May 15, 2022
Williams has been upgraded to questionable and while he continues to deal with a bone bruise in his left knee, he has a chance to play in the series decider, according to Trevor Hass of Boston.com.
ANALYSIS Head coach Ime Udoka said Williams' pain tolerance will determine whether he'll be active for the final game of the series, though Udoka also said the injury won't be a long-term concern. If he can't go, then Grant Williams might start once again with Al Horford set to play at center in a rather small lineup.
During the 2019-20 season, The Timelord did not experience the breakout season some expected. A hip injury restricted Williams to only 29 games last season. And now the 23-year-old seems once again stuck at third in the Boston center pecking order, behind last year's starter Daniel Theis and newly signed Tristan Thompson. Thompson, in particular, seems like an upgrade over last year's back-up, Enes Kanter. Should Thompson shine now that he's back with a contender, he could eat into Williams' minutes. Boston would probably be very happy to see Williams simply stay healthy for a full season - he only appeared in 32 games as a rookie in 2018-19. Timelord's athletic defensive approach is unquestioned and valued by head coach Brad Stevens. But Williams will probably need injuries to occur to Theis or Thompson for the Texas product to see significant minutes.
Williams' rookie season was a bit of a roller coaster. Championship aspirations at the start of Boston's season heavily implied that Williams would not see much floor time. Then, when the C's were ready to experiment with Williams, back issues hampered his availability. The result was only 32 NBA games and five G League appearances with the Maine Red Claws. At both levels, the body of work was erratic. At one moment, he's effectively defending Anthony Davis or throwing down monster alley-oop jams. But shortly afterward, Williams would be woefully out of position or aimlessly chasing wild blocks instead of playing solid defense. The departure of Al Horford and Aron Baynes has certainly created an opportunity for the 21-year-old Texas product to earn more minutes at the NBA level. Newly signed Enes Kanter will surely start and play major minutes. But after Kanter, the depth chart is messy, with Williams, third-year veteran Daniel Theis and newly signed Frenchman Vincent Poirier all fighting for minutes. None of those other center options come close to Williams' potential for delivering fantastic rim protection. but all three offer better offensive skills. Expect coach Brad Stevens to change his "first center off the bench" player based on matchups. By virtue of experience, Theis will start the year as the second-string center. But expect lots of experimentation throughout the season. The Timelord will have plenty of opportunities to prove he deserves more than last season's nine minutes per game.
Maturity issues and injury concerns are the perfect cocktail for slipping in the draft, and it’s clear both issues were a factor in Williams dropping all the way to Boston with the 27th pick. The good news is the Celtics don't need Williams to perform right out of the gate. Even if the the Texas A&M product were ready to contribute at the NBA level, he'd be hard-pressed to find minutes on most nights given the Celtics' borderline-laughable level of overall depth. All signs point to Williams essentially redshirting as a rookie and spending the bulk of his time with the Maine Red Claws of the G League. Given his intriguing combination of size and athleticism, Williams is somewhat of an interesting long-term prospect, but he's a long way from being ready to play meaningful NBA minutes.