The longest-tenured player currently on the Boston Celtics just got rewarded with a deserved four-year, $77 million contract the other day.
Marcus Smart will remain with the Cs for the foreseeable future, and for good reason.
The veteran point guard’s skill set pairs nicely next to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, providing high-level defense, ancillary playmaking, and outside shooting while not interfering with the two budding superstars.
Smart’s extension also locks up his role as the Boston Celtics starting point guard, eliminating any questions regarding the possibility of recent free agency steal, Dennis Schroder, or even Pritchard starting over him.
But what does this mean for the rest of the shamrocks?
What does this mean for their long-term plans and other extension-eligible players? More specifically, what does this mean for Robert Williams?
The big man is approaching the final year of his rookie contract, making him extension-eligible if the Cs choose to do so.
With Williams breaking into his star mold last season, but at the same time missing 20 games, Boston is in between a rock and a hard place when it comes to extending him.
If they give him the bag now and he gets injured, they threw away valuable cap space. If they wait to provide him with the bag, and he improves dramatically, then they passed up on giving him a budgeted contract.
Ultimately the decision will be up to Brad Stevens, but this article will examine what exactly Williams provides, and what kind of money his impact warrants or whether or not it’s worth it at all.
Towards the latter part of last season, Boston Celtics fans watched as Robert Williams blossomed in a more prominent role next to the team’s young stars.
Although his box score numbers were lackluster — just eight points and seven rebounds per game — when adjusted for the average starter’s possessions and taking a closer look at his tracking data, Williams’s 2020-21 season becomes that much more impressive.
Per 75 possessions, the center averaged 15.5 points, 13.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.6 steals, and 3.4 blocks per game on 72 TS%.
Williams’s incredible activity on both ends of the floor attributed to his insane adjusted statistics, but even without adjustments some of the track stats Williams built up were purely insane.
Williams shot 80 percent in the paint and had 93 dunks in 52 games, providing highly efficient rim pressure in the pick-and-roll.
When he wasn’t trying to take the rim off the backboard, Williams was making timely kick-outs and dump-offs to the shooters and cutters found on his side. He possesses unique vision and touch for a big, two things that exponentially increase his on-court value and potential contract extension.
On the defensive end, Williams was arguably the best shot-blocker in the NBA, tallying an 8.6 percent BLK% in the regular season, which ballooned to 18.5 percent in the playoffs, albeit on a small sample size.
Regardless, Williams was a menace around the rim and a menace on the perimeter due to his smaller stature.
His light feet and fast reaction time gave us some awe-inspiring moments, including a block on a James Harden step-back 3-pointer!
How cool is that!
Outside of incredible highlights, Williams was an excellent pick-and-roll defender and got progressively better at defending in space, leading to a higher block count.
As a two-way presence whose impact cannot be underestimated by his box-score numbers, Williams is likely looking at a double-digit contract extension.
Many reports have estimated the Boston Celtics could offer him somewhere between $12-15 million annually through three seasons, locking the center into the C’s core of Smart, Tatum, and Brown for the foreseeable future.
Considering how well Williams worked with those three this past season, giving him that kind of money wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
However, there are a few things to consider before retaining the 23-year-old.
For one, his heath is a massive factor in determining his extension. Williams has played a meager 113 games or approximately 38 games per year in his three seasons in the NBA.
That kind of availability is not remotely worth $12-15 million especially considering when he played, he was confined to a 25-minute restriction due to a lingering leg injury.
If Williams is going to be the franchise big for the Boston Celtics, he has to play a fair share of the team’s games.
Another factor to consider is Williams’ upside.
He’s flashed a mid-range jumper, but will he ever be a viable perimeter threat?
His skinnier frame allows for more mobility, but it hinders his ability to bang down low with post-up bigs and finish through contact. Will he ever maintain his mobility while also adding enough muscle to be a viable post defender?
Can Williams develop some sort of self-creation to make up for his lack of power, becoming a Christian Wood hybrid?
These are the questions that have to be asked by the front office before offering the youngster the keys to the castle.
I think Williams has tons of upside to realize, and given that he went from playing 32 and 29 games to 52 this past last season, I believe his durability will be much better as time goes on.
With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown beginning to take the next step as playmakers, the Boston Celtics must support them by giving them reliable pick-and-roll bigs.
Williams is more than just reliable — he’s elite.
The Boston Celtics should throw Williams an extension before he inevitably breaks out. If he gets injured again this year, he’s shown so much potential he won’t turn into a negative asset, and the Cs will be able to pawn him off for more assets down the road.
But if he stays healthy and breaks out, then the Cs will have one of the most dynamic big men in the league on one of the best contracts in the NBA.