Outside shooting has been an issue for the Boston Celtics in recent seasons, with the team continually lamenting the lack of a shooting specialist. There have been calls for Aaron Nesmith to get more playing time and even for Sam Hauser to be given an opportunity.
But while fans and media have been looking at players with a shooter’s reputation, Grant Williams has quietly gone about his job and has been putting in work from three-point range.
According to Basketball-Reference, the third-year wing is averaging 43.1% from deep on 3.4 attempts per game, and against the Oklahoma City Thunder in mid-November, the Tenessee alumn went 4-of-6 from downtown to keep the Celtics spacing alive.
Williams, who had two great shooting games against the Cleveland Cavaliers towards the start of November, had followed those games up with a 3-of-8 three-point shooting against the Atlanta Hawks before posting just 1-of-3 against the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the North Carolina native refound his shooting touch in the Celtics’ tightly-contested victory over the Thunder and should use his performance to get back on track offensively.
“Back in the day, they used to be like “keep shooting,” but now they kinda just let me be because they know it’s gonna turn around, and it makes me feel confident even more because they just let it happen. They know shots are gonna fall eventually, and it just worked out, turned back around,” Williams told the media when asked how his teammates encourage him after a rough shooting performance and how that has helped him rediscover his touch so quickly.
Williams Feels Like Shooting Comes Naturally
Williams, who went 0-25 from deep as a rookie, has become a reliable three-and-D option for the Celtics. With 17 games played in the season so far, Williams has gone 25-of-55 from deep, already surpassing his rookie year numbers and on pace to quickly surpass his sophomore production, per Basketball-Reference.
“I feel like just being more confident and taking those shots. In the past two years, sometimes I would have those looks and shot fake or pass them up because I was passive, thinking that maybe I can get other guys involved. But now that confidence is there, where that shot feels natural, and just gotta keep playing with that confidence, playing with that ability, and it opens things up for the rest of those guys,” Williams told the media, after yet another good shooting night from the corners.
According to Cleaning The Glass, Williams currently ranks in the 100th percentile among forwards for corner three-point percentage, where he’s knocking down 58% of his scoring opportunities.
Ime Udoka & Al Horford Speak on Williams Shooting Improvements
Ime Udoka is overseeing a resurgence from his Celtics team and has them playing a fast-paced brand of offense, which requires spacing to let the team’s star players have room to operate. Williams’ efficiency from the corners is what’s been providing Udoka and the Celtics with said spacing, something which Udoka noted following Boston’s win against the Thunder.
“I think he’s (Grant Williams) been confident all year, started off training camp really well, earlier in the season he had a few games where he went into a little bit of a slump there, but he’s bounced back well and continues to work at it. More importantly, he knows where he’s gonna get his shots off of guys, they’re looking for him, knowing the crowd that they draw, and he’s ready to let it go. We want quick decisions, and he does that when he’s shooting the ball. With his solid effort on defense and the way he’s shooting it on offense, we’re happy where he’s at and continue to be aggressive and hunt those shots,” Udoka said.
Al Horford, who is often seen as Boston’s elder statesmen, a player who not only produces on the court but also provides a steadying presence off it, also weighed in on Williams’ current improvements.
“Grant worked really hard this summer on his shooting, and being in those positions and situations; I think you’re starting to see it pay off. Not only him, but any of our guys, we’re always going to encourage them to continue to shoot, to stay shot ready.”
Williams’ improvements have come at the perfect time for both him and the Celtics. Udoka likes to run a two-big line-up, meaning the back-up forward position was up for grabs as the team entered training camp. With Williams’ improvements shooting the ball and on the defensive end, the third-year forward is atoning for his struggles last season.
Williams and the Celtics will be in action again on Monday, November 22nd, when they face the Houston Rockets at the TD Garden.