Boston Has Added a Healthy 'Freak of Nature' to Its Roster
BOSTON – According to Marcus Smart, the Boston Celtics have added a certified freak of nature to their lineup for the NBA’s restart down in Orlando.
His name is Rob Williams.
“No offense to the other guys on our team,” Smart said Sunday afternoon, “but Rob is a different type of freak of nature when it comes to athleticism and ability to go and change shots at the rim.”
And according to those who have seen him in the gym, Williams has been reminding everyone of those facts during practices in Florida.
The 22-year-old big man has fully recovered from the left hip edema injury that plagued him all season and he is now making noise in the gym. Williams has been doing all of the things the Celtics are accustomed to seeing from him when healthy, but at an even higher level due to improved basketball maturity.
“The game has definitely slowed down for him,” said Smart. “You can tell, just seeing him, he looks ready and healthy to me.
“I mean, the dude’s head is still jumping at the rim, still there. He’s still catching crazy lobs and protecting the rim and moving his feet very well.”
Added head coach Brad Stevens, “He looks like an older player now, finishing off his second year but basically entering his third.”
Not only does Williams look the part of a more mature player, but he feels like he’s in a different place physically.
“I actually feel like I got a little bit quicker, a little bit faster,” he said. “Being out those three and a half months, it gave my body time to heal. Got some good treatment, good work in. Ready to prove it on the court.”
Williams has not had much of a chance to prove anything yet this season. He has only appeared in 23 games and never played more than 23 minutes in a contest this season due to the hip injury.
He returned from a three-month absence to appear in Boston’s final four games before the hiatus, but realistically, the team just hasn’t had a chance to fully integrate him into the lineup.
That’s now going to change thanks to his full bill of health.
The question that now needs to be answered is, how will a healthy Williams impact the Celtics on a nightly basis? While the answer is to be determined, members of the Celtics believe that he will make them a more formidable team on the court.
Said Smart, “The defense can go up another level. We’ve got somebody back there that can protect the rim … So that allows us to pick up our pressure a little bit as guards, and really, really, really give the opposing team problems.”
Additionally, Williams’ length, athleticism and ability to roll to the basket will offer the Celtics added flexibility when it comes to five-man lineups.
“We’re going to play around all our skilled wings and guards,” Stevens said, “and we’re going to need some interchangeability at the five-spot.”
Boston had some of that this season, with Daniel Theis serving as the more athletic defender and rim-runner, and Enes Kanter serving as the bigger body and more dominant rebounder. Adding a freak of nature to that rotation – one who can fly above the rim at both ends of the court – will only make them a more dangerous opponent.