Considering how the NBA Finals went for the Boston Celtics, how well did they address their problems in the NBA Draft?
Scoring depth: JD Davison averaged 8.5 points per game for Alabama.
Floor spacing: Davison shot .301 on three pointers
Ball handling/security: Davison averaged 4.3 assists, but also 2.9 turnovers per game.
Defensive rebounding: Davison is a point guard, so don’t expect much.
JD Davison is a project. He’s a high risk/high reward selection with hopes that with a year or two in the Celtics system, Boston develops Davison and he reaches his full potential after an inconsistent collegiate season. We shouldn’t expect much from the electric but inexperienced rookie.
The Celtics didn’t get better by drafting Davison. He’s not a need when Boston has Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Payton Pritchard on the roster with Yam Madar about to make his case to stay in the US to further his career.
Boston will try to get better. The Celtics have three trade exceptions that they want to use this summer to add veteran depth. And while drafting Davison doesn’t seem like a help now move, the Celtics will use all resources available to improve.
That includes rookie free agents signed to the Summer League team.
The first Boston Celtics Summer League signing is a good one. Purdue’s Trevion Williams checks a lot of boxes in areas of need
Enter Trevion Williams. The Purdue big man went undrafted, but Boston knew him very well. The Boston Celtics was one of the teams that worked Williams out. Clearly Boston liked what they saw, and Williams will suit up for the Celtics entry in Las Vegas.
And when they start playing games, we will see a lot to like.
Williams is a 6-10 265 throwback power forward. He’s a bully with his back to the basket, able to back down defenders before scoring over or around them. Williams shot .547 from the floor, .555 on two pointers. So if the Celtics need scoring, it’s a simple as giving Williams the ball in the post and let him operate.
You wouldn’t think such a brute in the paint could space the floor. Knowing his strengths, Williams only took 14 three-point attempts last year. But he connected on .357 percent of those attempts, so the potential is there.
Another way Williams surpasses expectations is he sees the floor very well and averaged three assists per game. For a power player, Williams has eye-opening vision and touch as a passer. From the post Williams surveys the floor before he flicks one-handed passes around the perimeter, softly hits cutters, or even finesses behind-the-back passes. It sounds unbelievable, until you see it for yourself. It makes sense why Williams models his game after Nikola Jokic and Draymond Green.
And rebounding? Williams averaged 7.4 rebounds mostly off the bench in 2021-22, 9.1 boards per game when he was a starter last year.
The best part of all this is Williams played four years for the Boilermakers. He should be able to contribute almost immediately.
Williams might be the 2022 version of Jared Sullinger. He lacks ideal physical traits but was a highly productive player close to the basket. Williams also didn’t leave college early, which nowadays is held against prospects. Having perceived limited upside is a red flag.
But already knowing how to play shouldn’t be a negative. And accepting a demotion from starting as a junior to a reserve as a senior can be misinterpreted. Williams having experience as a starter and a reserve should be a positive – he’s willing to accept any role.
What should be stressed is that Williams thrived in both roles. He was named to the First Team All-Big 10 team in 2021 and was the 2021-22 Big 10 Sixth Man of the Year.
There are legitimate reasons why Williams didn’t have his name called on Thursday. He lacks athleticism and isn’t much of a factor on defense. He averaged less than a block per game so he’s not a rim protector. He’s also very right-hand dominant. Despite playing close to the rim, Williams rarely finishes with his left.
Williams’ ability to fill the rim, whether himself or assisting teammates, should convince the Boston Celtics the positives outweigh the negatives. A strong performance during the Summer League could earn Williams a two-way contract.
That would put Williams a step away from the G League in Portland, Maine and two steps from Boston. The wait might not be long.