Boston Celtics fans will always remember the Grant Williams game. That memorable Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks in which bruising forward scored a career-high 27 points and drained 7 threes to help the C’s advance to the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals.
But, beyond that signature game, what Celtics fans will miss most about Williams is his toughness and versatility as a defender that made him the true definition of a role player in the NBA. On a team led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the University of Tennessee product grew into a role the Celtics will now have the challenge of filling in the 2023-24 NBA season.
A late-first round pick in 2019, Williams gave the Boston Celtics his all as a big body who had success defending the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo. With his ability to knock down shots and score around the rim, Williams became a solid contributor in the Celtics rotation until he wasn’t.
Boston Celtics will need to find another Grant Williams type player
As a hard-nose player who didn’t back down from any player, Williams saw himself at the end of the bench towards the end of the 2022-23 NBA season. Whatever the reason, Grant fell out of favor with Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla, but his value resurfaced in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers in helping the team defend Joel Embiid.
Again, that versatility defensively paid off, but that value was not enough to keep him in Boston.
As part of a three-team trade, the Celtics completed a sign-and-trade that sent Williams to the Dallas Mavericks for two second-round picks. Not a tremendous lost based on stats, but a major loss when it comes to toughness, something an NBA championship contender need, especially off the bench.
Now, the question is who will step up in that role for the Boston Celtics?
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Who will be the next player the C’s are able to develop in the same way they did Grant?
While the question to that answer may have yet to be acquired, Grant Williams took to Twitter this weekend to express his appreciation for the fans and organization where he spent his first four years in the NBA:
"“To the Celtics, the city and my brothers: Thank you for your belief in me and support through all of our seasons of basketball and life,” the 24-year-old tweeted. “I’m beyond grateful to have been a part of this organization & will forever have love for the people that surrounded me in this experience.”"
Williams averaged 6.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in his career with the Boston Celtics, but the measure of a role player that made him a value cannot be captured by stats. Attitude, toughness, hustle, muscle and just believing in his ability made him the true definition of a role player.
With that said, good luck in Dallas Grant!