Robert Williams Case Study

Robert Williams Case Study

by March 11, 2022 0 comments

The Boston Celtics have seen a drastic change in play in the second half of their season. From the team struggling to stay above the .500 mark to a team that is now considered a title contender. The team has played well these past two months, due to part of the roster finally be coming to their own role. The major reason for the team’s success does not come to first sight.

Most will point to Jayson Tatum‘s recent emergence from his rather inconsistent play in the first half of the season. Tatum has been playing like an MVP, but his success is also due to being part of the team’s starting center. Robert Williams is the anchor of the team’s defense, rebounds, and post play. Williams leads the team in both rebounds, blocks, player efficiency rating, and field goal percentage. 

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Offense

Williams is currently averaging ten points per game on the season. The center is not a perimeter threat but is a strong body that clears paths for his teammates. Williams is a problem with the pick and roll, as he creates the necessary space on the screen for his teammates for an open lane or shot. His pick and roll and IQ have been on par with the elite centers of the league. His ability to find the open space after the screen to fill the hole has helped the offense flourish. 

Williams’ efficiency offensively is amongst the best in the league and is on pace to become the best in the league’s history. The center is a threat in the low post and off the pick and roll. The 6-foot-8 center has soft hands and tremendous athleticism to finish around the rim through contact. The lob threat and dish-off leave defenders to choose between two offensive scenarios. Do they guard the shooter or help for the low post lob? Williams’ success with his efficiency and pick-and-roll IQ leaves the Celtics with two threats and a solid offense gameplan. 

Currently, Williams has a player efficiency rating (PER) of 22.1. That is higher than both Jaylen Brown and Tatum’s on the season. Williams is efficient in the offense, and his role to create space for his teammates allows him to score easily on open offensive rebounds or throw a dish after the screen. The center is averaging 72.5 percent from the field which indicates that he is a great finisher around the rim. 

Defense

The four-year center is currently a top-three player in the league in blocks per game, 2.2 to be exact. On top of his interior dominance, the team ranks second in blocks per game as well. Williams is the league’s best interior defender and anchors the second-best interior post points allowed. He contests every shot and forces bad shots that lead to easy rebounds for the team. A physical presence in the paint as well, even as an undersized center. Williams is capable of guarding bigger and more agile centers in Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid

Without Williams, the team’s rebounding would be sub-par to the league average. A fierce rebounder who alters shots and causes more misses for more rebounds. The team ranks fifth in rebounding which is the highest for the team in years. Williams has helped progress the defensive rebounds that were once the team’s biggest flaw. With Williams healthy, the team ranks third in opponents’ points per game, third in defensive efficiency, and first in opponent shooting percentage. 

Case Study

Boston drafted the center in the 2018 draft after they saw the Texas A&M prospect start to fall far. Many analysts and scouts had the center in the late lottery, as he showcased this type of play in college. After a few stories came out about his dedication and some personality issues the center saw his draft stock drop. Danny Ainge; the President of Basketball Operations at the time, took a chance on the center. This draft pick has turned out to be the biggest steal of the 2018 draft class. 

The success of Williams this season has anchored the team’s identity of being the league’s best defense. The late drop-off in his draft stock helped weld the team into finding their identity. The reward for his play this season is not just becoming true title contenders, but he is now in consideration for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award.


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