Boston’s Defensive Duo Can Offer Revitalizationby John Devereaux April 11, 2021 0 comments
Entering Saturday night, the Boston Celtics sit at 27-26 heading into a tough stretch of the schedule. Over the next eight days, they will have to face Denver, Portland, the Los Angeles Lakers, and Golden State. Each team has an elite player that can alone carry a franchise.
This Celtics team has cooled down heavily after a terrific start to the season when they put themselves amongst the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference. However, there have been some clear faults to this season. The Celtics have taken a step back both offensively and defensively this season. Due to some offseason losses and injures, the team has not looked up to par with regard to expectations.
However, even during their lowest points, there have been two players that have come to light. These two players were already expected to make a jump this year but have actually exceeded those expectations.
Williams was a steal in his draft class. Off-the-court issues and some minor injuries kept him from being a lottery pick in 2018. Drafting the center at No. 27 was an absolute robbery of a selection. Criminal. Williams is a prototypical defensive center. A hyper-athletic big man who can run up the floor and protect the paint. His offensive game was raw, but his finishing around the rim was already NBA-level when entering the league.
In just his third year on a contending NBA team, Williams is now the starter. He is averaging eight points and 6.9 rebounds on 71.9 percent shooting from the field. Although Williams has just recently been starting for the team, many categories have seen an increase. Defensively, the team has seen more success.
In the past few games, Williams’ presence on the court has allowed the Celtics defense to clamp the driving lanes from opposing teams. With the big man locking the paint, opposing teams have found it harder to score in the lane. Williams also limits offensive rebounds allowed, which is a major problem for Boston. He is able to garner 3.7 offensive rebounds per game when he starts. That would put Williams among the top in the league, ahead of Rudy Gobert and Nikola Jokic.
The young center has had a great impact defensively for this team, and with a surge in his offensive output, the Celtics should be in great hands for the remainder of this season and many years to come.
Langford has finally graced the court after a strange disappearance. He had been injured or away from the team since the beginning of last year’s playoffs. The sophomore guard injured his wrist in Orlando and had surgery as soon as the playoffs ended. The original timeline of his return was said to be early in the season.
However, Langford never returned due to some “setbacks”. Many believed the Celtics were intentionally keeping him away from the court when his clearance date had passed multiple weeks. Langford was able to return to the team in February but was added to the league’s safety and protocol list.
The guard finally made his Celtics return on April 4 and was immediately impactful. Coming out of the 2019 draft as the No. 14-overall pick, he was projected to be an elite perimeter defender. Since entering the league, Langford has been one of the most electric defensive players to watch, attacking defenders at the rim to block shots and throwing his body on loose balls. His energy rivals that of his teammate, Marcus Smart.
In three games since his return, Langford has already been responsible for many key plays. In his first game back, he hit a three-pointer to give the Celtics the lead, then a minute later had one of the best blocks in the NBA this season. This was a true highlight reel of him showcasing his shooting and defense, all in a matter of a minute. The block alone was enough to produce excitement for the remainder of the season.
Langford provides tremendous perimeter defense and can stick with anyone at the rim. The hustle and defensive awareness that the young guard has will allow the Celtics to thrive on defense. If he stays healthy, he could see himself receiving more minutes, which in turn would produce more statistical value.
Both Williams and Langford have a future in the NBA and can provide energy and momentum to revitalize the season. Once both players fully return to their roles, the Celtics should see more games with favorable end results.
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