Boston Celtics fans, time to give Grant Williams his due

Grant Williams #12 of the Boston Celtics shoots the ball over DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Milwaukee Bucks during a game at TD Garden (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Grant Williams #12 of the Boston Celtics shoots the ball over DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Milwaukee Bucks during a game at TD Garden (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Grant Williams wasn’t a sexy pick when the Boston Celtics selected him 22nd overall. He wasn’t a draft early entrant. He’s not a lean ath-a-lete with a ridiculous vertical. G-Will was an experienced, undersized power forward that knew how to play the game.

A basketball IQ isn’t as attractive as throwing down a spectacular dunk. While some of the players selected after Williams authored a highlight or two, Williams was setting crushing picks and playing solid positional defense on a nightly basis.

While Williams lacks highlights, he has played in more games than all of the players selected after him. Out of those 28 players, only Darius Bazley, Jordan Poole and Keldon Johnson have played more minutes. And of those players with more than 100 games played, only Daniel Gafford (7.5) and Johnson (5.7) have a higher win share than Williams (4.5).

All the little things still weren’t adding up for Williams in the eyes of Celtics fans. Well have they noticed that this season he’s in the top-10 in 3-point field goal percentage? Or that almost all of Williams’ statistics are up?

Grant Williams wasn’t fully embraced by Boston Celtics fans, but it’s time that his evolved game should be appreciated by all

Part of the Williams rejection was due to missing his first 25 three-point attempts. After breaking the ice, Williams shot a respectable 33.8 from behind the arc for the rest of the 2019-20 season.

He improved to 37.2 in his second season, but that’s been eclipsed in 2021. After Monday night’s win over the Bucks, Williams was connecting at a 45.3 rate, easily a career high. It’s a small part of the career season Williams is having as he has established new highs in field goal percentage (51.1), free throw percentage (86.7), total rebounds (3.4), blocks (0.6) and points per game (7.5).

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Getting a high level of play from Williams shouldn’t be that surprising. He was a 2-time SEC player of the year at Tennessee. What may had unlocked Williams’ potential is his weight loss.

On medial day, Williams explained that he gained weight as a rookie to better compete against centers and power forwards. With a new coaching staff and new system for 2020, Williams shed about 12-15 pounds before the season started, with the intention to lose an additional 8-10 pounds.

The difference is visible, as Williams’ build was smaller, looking more like a small forward than undersized four. On the court, Williams is better equipped to stay in front of wings/guards when forced to switch.

Did anyone see this upgraded version of G-Will coming? Based on his second year, expectations were low. But Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens liked Williams enough to extend his rookie deal and let Semi Ojeleye leave as a free agent. To say that decision is working out would be an understatement.

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Williams is far from a perfect player. As much as he improved, he can’t grow three more inches, so he still gets cherry-picked on rebounds. Beyond that, there’s way more to celebrate Williams for than to criticize him.

While other young Boston players can’t crack the rotation, Williams is a safe bet to have head coach Ime Udoka call his number every night. Hopefully appreciation for Williams grows with Boston Celtics fans.