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Robert Williams Needs to Start

In my last article, I went through what the Celtics still need in order to get to the Finals this year. I also mentioned that Robert Williams III should see the floor more and hopefully he could develop a rapport with Payton Pritchard to lead the second unit. I’m going to slightly amend that statement: Robert Williams needs to move to the starting lineup.

The Case:

The Stats:

Williams has played very well in the limited time he’s seen the floor. Averaging only 15 minutes per game, He’s scoring 6 points and grabbing 5.5 rebounds per game, in addition to 0.7 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.2 blocks. Per 36 minutes, that’s 14.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.3 steals, and 3.0 blocks per game! It’s unlikely he would be able to keep all those numbers up, but he should be able to sustain it enough to be a double-double threat in the lineup, along with being a strong defensive presence getting multiple steals and blocks each game. Can we say the same about the Celtics’ other options at center?

The more advanced stats tell a similar story:

If I’m reading those graphs correctly (and I’m pretty sure I am), Timelord is playing like the 3rd best Celtic, in terms of Total Points Added. Why should he not see the court more?

(Also, wow, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are on another level. My goodness.)

The Potential:

The 27th pick of the 2018 Draft, Williams is still just 23 years old. With the Celtics building around 24 year old Jaylen Brown and 22(!!!) year old Jayson Tatum, there is some incentive to develop other young players along with them. Obviously, the team is good enough to contend, but in order to keep the championship window open for as long as possible, you need to develop young talent. Williams fits the bill of being a good player now, and someone who can still grow alongside Tatum and Brown.

What About Theis And Thompson?

At this point in the season, Williams’ main competitors for playing time are Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson. Both have had their own moments this season (Thompson in particular has played well of late), but at this point in their careers both players are what they are. Thompson is a strong offensive rebounder who can play solid defense and throw in some scoring. Theis is a stretch big who is a great team player and can also play good defense. I’m not saying either are bad players, but at this point Williams is playing better than both of them.

In fact, you could even say Williams is an amalgamation of the other two centers. Theis is scoring 14.3 points per 36 minutes, and Thompson is grabbing 13.6 boards per 36. Both are essentially the numbers Williams has in his per-36 stat line. That, in addition to William’s superior defense, shows Williams is the better and more complete player for this team.

How To Get Him More Minutes:

Even if you decide to keep Williams on the bench to bolster the 2nd unit, it’s clear he needs to play more. Considering there’s only so many minutes to go around, and we’ve seen what a 2 big lineup can (not) do, it might be best to trade away one of Theis or Thompson and give Williams those minutes. I really liked the Thompson signing initially, but now it is clear he’s just in the way. He hadn’t been playing well up until recently and he’s being paid much more than Theis. Plus, Theis is a threat from 3 point range, something Thompson and Williams are not.

If the Celtics want a shot at the Finals this year and beyond, it’s clear they need to play and develop Robert Williams. Brad, please come to your senses and PLAY THE MAN.

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– Pat Shuman (@PShu1996 on Twitter) Check out my other articles here!

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