Opportunity has always been a tough thing to come by for Rob Williams in his brief Celtic career, whether it be due to his own health or the depth chart in front of him.
However, the athletic center played his way into Boston's playoff rotation during the Orlando bubble, arguably sticking out as the best center on the roster in certain matchups.
The Celtics brought in a versatile center in Tristan Thompson to replace Enes Kanter, so the depth chart in the middle is still plenty crowded. However, Williams appears ready to make his mark in year three.
“I honestly feel like I’ll make a great jump this year, not only for myself but also for my team,” Williams said. “I feel like I’m around great guys to do that, too. Bringing in Tristan, somebody I can learn from easily, and every day learning stuff from Theis, I feel like they put me in a great position too.”
Brad Stevens has been upbeat about the third-year center so far in training camp, particularly since he’s come a long way from a communication standpoint in just a couple of seasons.
“I thought he worked really hard, and last year he worked out great,” Stevens said. “Went through 40 or 50 games where he wasn’t available due to injury, and then he played well in the playoffs, especially in the Toronto series.
“He’s backed that up with his first couple of days of practice. Very encouraged, I always tell the story of when Rob first got here – he had great people to learn from with Aron Baynes and (Al) Horford. Then next year when we were getting ready for summer league, Kara Lawson came up and said man, I wish everybody talked like Rob. That was a reminder that people can improve, and drastically be ready to take the next step without ever playing a minute. The way he can communicate a defense and know what we're trying to do one year in is really good, and now he’s more experienced than that and it’s translated on the biggest stage, so hopefully he can build on that.”
The opportunity should be there for Williams out of the gate with Thompson sidelined for most of training camp due to a hamstring strain. The added reps is something he is taking advantage of so far.
“Starting in training camp with him being out, me being vocal, me being the second big, that's obviously helping me,” Williams said. “When the season starts and I get the rotation minutes, I think it'll be a big jump for me.”
The question remains how Williams will be able to get sufficient minutes when Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson are both