Grant Williams was an afterthought when he entered the league. He was picked 22nd in the 2019 NBA Draft behind the likes of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and Tyler Herro to name a few. Fans didn’t really have exemplary expectations because they didn’t have any expectations. Over the last few years, it looked like he was maybe going to be an average NBA player at best. He received consistent minutes, but was an undersized big with no discernible skill in particular. He was just okay.
Then something happened this past summer. Something that even some Boston fans are still unaware of. He became an outstanding shooter. This isn’t to say that he is just starting to make shots. His shooting actually stands out on the statsheet.
Clearly Williams saw the skills that P.J. Tucker had developed and saw that potential in himself. Tucker won a championship with the Bucks last season as an integral three-and-D guy. Williams is finding a similar role for himself this season in Boston. His defense is good, like Tucker’s, but his shooting is really what turns his minutes from forgettable to invaluable.
According to CleaningTheGlass.com, his points per 100 shot attempts jumped from 109.5 to 140.8 this year; for context, Kevin Durant is at 125.7. Williams’ three point shooting overall is just over 45 percent. Focus on the the corner specifically and he’s draining them at about 57 percent, both among league leaders. That’s a big jump considering he was shooting 25 percent in his rookie year and 37 percent last year. In fact, teammates jokingly called him “Ben Simmons” early in his first year because he hadn’t made a three in his first 25 attempts. Now, he has the best percentage on the team.
Undoubtedly, Williams has been an important cog in the offense this year. A good majority of his shots come in the form of catch and shoot threes. He can wait in the corner for the defense to collapse or find ways to get open coming off pin downs. It’s used sparingly, but he usually finds off pick and pops as well. He sometimes waits in the dunkers spot and then works his way out to the corner or high arc as the play develops. Williams shows he know where to be and what he needs to do.
Grant is only playing 22 minutes per game, which is probably exactly where his average should be. He brings extra shooting of the bench and a defensive punch that works best for that role. Some say he should be a starter, but that could result in an overall decline in efficiency that may take away from his effectiveness. He still lacks size and other offensive skills that should limit his minutes. With that in mind, he still could stand to up his attempts by one or two a game.
The Celtics have talked about a need for ball movement since before the season started. That becomes a whole lot easier when the recipient of the pass can make shots. The Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum experiment goes a whole lot smoother when they know they can trust their teammates and they give up the ball.
(Photo: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)
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