Robert Williams has been one of the more reliable members of the Boston Celtics roster this season.
Yet, Celtics legend Robert Parish believes the fourth-year big will require mentoring if he’s to take another leap in his development.
“I think what might hinder him is a mentor, the right mentor. We need a mentor that played the position — NOT a guard or a forward trying to tell the center how to play the center position.
It’d be like me trying to tell a guard or forward how to play the position when I never played the position. And I think that’s one of the issues with the NBA coaching. They don’t have enough big man coaches; they’ve got coaches for the forwards and the guards, the little people. The bigs need love too!” Parish said during a recent episode of The Celtics Lab podcast.
It’s a well-known fact around the NBA that big men take longer to develop, with most of them not hitting their primes until six or seven years after entering the league. Perhaps Parish has a point, and that by adding specialized coaches onto a team’s staff, franchises could shorten the gap between drafting a center and watching them impact winning at a high level.
Williams Lacks Low-Post Offense
According to Cleaning The Glass, Williams currently resides in the 99th percentile among centers for scoring around the rim, with 83% of his attempts resulting in points on the board. Yet, when watching the Lousiana native play, you quickly notice those buckets are courtesy of lobs, putbacks, or dunks when operating as the roll man in pick-and-roll scenarios.
When opposing defenses shut down Boston’s transition offense or take away the high pick-and-roll, Williams becomes a spectator, resigned to the dunker spot as he awaits a putback opportunity. However, if the Texas A&M alumn could add some low-post moves to his scoring repertoire, he would vastly enhance his offensive upside during half-court situations.
In the modern NBA, back-to-the-basket centers are antiquated, with teams preferring rim-runners, floor spacers, or a mixture of the two. However, Williams boasts a unique blend of speed, athleticism, and passing skills that would make him a nightmare for defenders around the low and mid-post region of the court.
Simply adding a drop step and baby hook shot would force defenses to play the Williams tighter, which in turn would open up cutting opportunities for his teammates and allow his playmaking skills to thrive. Of course, a few post moves would also result in the athletic center upping his points production, which would also help a Celtics team that is prone to spells of stagnant offense.
Parish Would Be Open to a Coaching Role
Whenever Celtics fans discuss a potential mentor for Williams, they usually postulate Kevin McHale or Kevin Garnett as the ideal guy for the job. Yet Parish has the resume and scoring credentials to fit the job description and would be a perfect mentor to Williams if given the opportunity.
“Well, first of all, I’d need to get an opportunity!” Parish said when asked if he would be willing to try his hand at coaching, “Yeah, I clicked with (Clifford) Ray as a mentor to guide me and help me navigate the challenges of the NBA, so that would be my advice to Mr. Williams.”
Parish, who started his NBA career with the Golden State Warriors, spent 14 seasons with the Celtics between 1980 and 1994, playing 1106 games and starting 1093. Over his 14 year career in Boston, the big man averaged 16.5 points, 10 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game, according to Basketball-Reference.
Furthermore, Parish dominated the NBA at a time when bruising centers reigned supreme, and low-post offense was a premium skillset among big men. Adding somebody of Parish’s caliber to the Celtics coaching staff and having him work exclusively with their big-man rotation would be a stroke of genius and could unlock the next level of Williams’ game.