Boston Celtics fans have been waiting for Robert Williams to return from injury all season, so you can understand their excitement now that he’s back in the rotation.
And while you can accept that Williams won’t be part of the starting unit as he continues to build up his fitness levels, the expectation that he will eventually rejoin Boston’s starting five has been an unspoken certainty among fans worldwide.
So, when Joe Mazzulla swerved an opportunity to commit to Williams eventually returning to the starting unit, it was understandable that fans were displeased.
“If this isn’t related to health/restricted minutes it’s actually scary to hear him say that. It’s absolutely not “best for the team.” Having Rob Williams on the court as much as possible is what’s “best for the team,” Twitter user @BostonSportsMou commented.
“Respectfully, just not buying this. Rob is by far our best 5, a top center league wide and rounds out the team perfectly. His career deserves the attention too. Could be an all star etc. Play the man and lead the league. WTF,” @RosevilleJack chimed in.
Of course, it’s not who starts a game but rather who finishes the game that’s important. Yet, considering Williams’ impact throughout last season, it does make sense that a large portion of the Celtics fanbase wants to see Williams return to the starting rotation once his fitness is at a level that allows him to do so.
Robert Williams Is Willing To Accept a Bench Role
Following Williams’ 11-point, 15-rebound night against the Houston Rockets on December 27, the fifth-year big man spoke of his willingness to accept a bench role if that was in the best interest of the team.
“If we’re winning, we’re winning. Whatever it takes, whatever I gotta do…He (Mazzulla) talked to me about it before I came back, which was expected. Like I said, I’m a team player. We’re rolling with someone feel like we’re supposed to keep rolling with,” Williams said.
Right now, it makes sense that Williams continues to build up his fitness while operating under a minutes restriction and coming off of the team’s bench. However, it will be interesting to see if Mazzulla feels Williams is more valuable with the second unit long-term, especially given the defensive boost he provides the team when on the floor.
Jaylen Brown Heaps Praise On Robert Williams
Speaking to the media following the Celtics’ December 27 victory, Jaylen Brown spoke glowingly of Williams’ impact since returning from injury.
“Rob has come back, been high energy; he’s getting a rhythm and a flow into the offense. He’s being a great setter, as he’s always been. He’s protecting the rim like he always does. We’ve gotten some lobs to him; he’s being a high activity offensive rebounder. And Rob can pass the ball too. He’s somebody that we can throw it to and play out of an action with him…Rob is special for us. He was special for us last year,” Brown said.
For now, the Celtics will likely continue running their ‘single big’ lineup with Al Horford manning the middle, but given it’s success last season, there’s no reason to believe that Mazzulla might not experiment with double-big lineups as we get closer to the playoffs and seeding has been confirmed.