Free agency and summer trade season won’t kick into high gear in the NBA for a couple more weeks. However, the Boston Celtics unofficially tipped things off last month when new team president Brad Stevens swapped Kemba Walker for Al Horford and Moses Brown.
While Horford’s homecoming is exciting for fans — and may even help some on the court and behind the scenes — the deal was largely a cost-saving move for Boston. If Stevens and his brain trust want to improve upon last season’s woes, there’s probably more work to be done in Beantown.
But what shape or form does that work take? Will Marcus Smart finally get moved? Is Stevens dangling Jaylen Brown in hopes of landing an even bigger star to play beside Jayson Tatum? Or, is the Celtics front office aiming to improve the roster incrementally and around the margins?
Whatever the case may be, pinpointing the Celtics player that will be the next to be moved is a difficult task. However, one outlet has attempted to do just that, namechecking a certain former first-round pick.
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B/R: Grant Williams Is the Current Celtic Most Likely to Be Dealt
On Sunday, Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes did his best to identify the player most likely to be traded for all of the NBA’s 30 teams. Unsurprisingly, his pick for the Philadelphia 76ers — Ben Simmons — was the clear headliner. Contrastingly, he made an under-the-radar pick for the Celtics.
Per Hughes, the current Boston baller who is most likely to be traded is none other than big man Grant Williams. He believes that the Celtics’ sudden excess of frontcourt players may have necessitated such a move, as Williams’ role and pathway to minutes will likely diminish next season.
“With Al Horford’s return in the Kemba Walker trade, Robert Williams III’s need for more minutes (if he could ever stay healthy) and Tristan Thompson’s superior experience, Grant Williams’ role on the 2021-22 Boston Celtics is set to shrink.
“Even the small-ball looks that suit him best figure to function at least as well with Horford in the middle.”
That logic is pretty sound. Although Williams has been a rotational player since his rookie season, he only managed to get up to 18.1 minutes per contest in 2020-21, even as Tristan Thompson missed a significant portion of the season due to COVID-19. Now, he’ll have Horford and Brown to contend with in addition to the big men that were already there.
Williams Made Big Strides in ’20-21
As noted by Hughes, Williams showed significant improvement as a second-year pro, raising his three-point percentage to 37.2 after being a non-factor from deep as a rookie. However, the 22-year-old’s defense continued to be his best attribute.
Of the Celtics’ most-utilized players in ’20-21 (1000+ minutes played), Williams had a team-best defensive rating of 109.3. Meanwhile, opponents’ field goal percentages dropped by 2% when compared to their norms with Williams as the closest defender. That number ballooned to 5.3% on shots within 10 feet of the hoop.
His size and length at 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan equated to struggles against the bigger and more athletic pivot men in the Association. However, some lowlight plays notwithstanding, the Cs were consistently better at guarding when he was on the court last season.
That defensive presence, combined with a burgeoning offensive game, could make him a poor man’s Draymond Green down the line. However, that evolution will likely have to occur with another team.
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