More and more Boston Celtics players continue to voice how much of a necessity Robert Williams III is. During the Celtics shootaround on January 9, Jaylen Brown delved into why the Celtics need Williams on both ends of the floor, especially when the playoffs come around
“We need Rob. Rob is amazing. Rob has a special ability on offense and defense, as we’ve been able to see a little bit this year, but especially last year. So the more we integrate him and use him, the better our team will be. We got off to a hot start with other guys playing a different type of ball, but I think down the line and in the playoffs, having Rob as a critical part of our offense and defense is necessary. I think that’s something we should take a look at as we get closer to the playoffs,” Brown said.
Williams got hurt a few weeks before the playoffs started last season. While he returned during their first-round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, it was clear that he was far from 100% throughout the rest of their playoff run. Since returning on December 16, Williams has been coming off the bench with no indication of returning to the starting lineup.
Tatum Would Like Williams to Start
After the Celtics beat the San Antonio Spurs on January 7, Tatum also singled out Williams for his play while also adding that he would like Williams to start.
“Whether he starts or comes off the bench, [I] just want him on the floor,” Tatum said. “Want him healthy. And want to be on the floor with him at the same time as much as possible. So, you know, I’m gonna start, so I would like Rob to start, but, you know, whatever’s best for the team, he’ll do that. And, you know, as much as I can be on the court with him as possible, you know, I think [that] makes us better.”
The Celtics’ starting lineup of Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart, Derrick White, and Al Horford are putting up a net-rating of plus-12.8, which is quite good for a five-man lineup in general. Williams may very well be inserted into the starting lineup as the season progresses, but with his injury history and all, the Celtics are being understandably cautious with him health-wise.
Joe Mazzulla Addresses Williams’ Role
Before the Celtics took on the Chicago Bulls, interim head coach Joe Mazzulla explained why Williams is being managed the way he has been since his return.
“He’s not under a (minutes) restriction as much as it is just the management. As he continues to get better, especially getting in shape, he’s recovering well after each game. It’s just more of a process than a management than anything else,” Mazzulla said.
With Williams back in the fold, it will be interesting to see if the Celtics will keep starting Blake Griffin at center when Horford sits out or if they will turn to Williams instead. With 42 games left in the season, the Celtics will likely have to deal with some form of injury. If and when that happens, Williams may get his chance.