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In case you haven’t noticed, the Boston Celtics have a new sharpshooting expert this season.
His name is Grant Williams.
Yes, the same Grant Williams who missed the first 25 long-range attempts of his career has emerged as not only the most efficient 3-point shooter in Boston, but also one of the best corner-3 marksmen in the entire NBA.
On Saturday night, the third-year forward knocked down 4-of-6 from 3-point range, including 3-of-4 from the corners, finishing with 14 points in a 111-105 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The effort boosted his overall 3-point percentage up to a team-high 43.1 percent, and his corner-3 clip to a whopping 55.6 percent. He has now made the fifth-most corner 3-pointers in the league (15) and has the third-highest efficiency among players who have attempted at least 25 such shots.
In case you were wondering, the last Celtic player who shot at least 50 percent from the corner while attempting at least one such shot per game did so 10 years ago, during the 2010-11 season.
His name was Ray Allen.
Obviously, Grant Williams is no Ray Allen, but his improvement from long distance is worthy of your attention, because it’s certainly starting to garner notice from opposing defenses.
“I feel like I'm just being more confident taking those shots,” Williams said Saturday night after the Celtics improved to one game above .500. “The past two years, sometimes I would have those looks and would shot-fake or pass them up because I'm passive thinking that maybe I can get other guys involved. Now, that confidence is there where the shot feels natural. I just got to keep playing with that confidence and that ability which should open things up for the rest of those guys.”
The rest of those guys are conscious of Williams’ confidence, and so they just keep feeding him the rock.
“I think he’s been confident all year,” said head coach Ime Udoka. “He started off training camp very well, had a few games where he went into a slump, but he continues to work on it.
“More importantly, now I think he knows where he’s going to get his shots off of guys. They’re looking for him out of 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. He’s putting in a solid effort on defense, and with the way he’s shooting it on offense, he just has to continue to be aggressive and knock down those shots.”
Williams has been particularly aggressive in taking those shots over the last five games, sinking 14-of-26 from deep. The only Celtic who has made more long-distance shots during that span is Jayson Tatum with an 18-of-49 mark.
Williams began to give us a taste of his shooting potential last season when he connected on 37.2 percent of his 3-point attempts, including a 44.6 percent clip from the corner. The biggest difference this year is that he's nearly doubled his volume from 2.0 attempts to 3.4 attempts per game. He has also made at least three 3-pointers in six of his 16 appearances this season after doing so just seven times in his previous 132 career games.
With 20 percent of the season now over, the sample size is large enough to confirm Williams’ emergence as a top-notch shooter. The rest of the league is starting to take notice and so should you, if you haven’t already.