Al Horford’s successor: Boston Celtics must know how critical retaining Grant Williams is

The Boston Celtics must understand the importance of retaining Grant Williams this offseason as the successor to Al Horford at power forward Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Celtics must understand the importance of retaining Grant Williams this offseason as the successor to Al Horford at power forward Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports /

Extending Al Horford for another two years was vital to get the most out of this championship window, but looking ahead to the future, Brad Stevens has to be prioritizing the former Tennessee forward who has taken continued strides since coming into the league. When the Boston Celtics selected Grant Williams with the 22nd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the two-time SEC Player of the Year was known for his basketball IQ, versatility on the defensive end, and finishing around the basket.

A two-year extension of the veteran big man is not an excuse to let Williams have free reign over the summer. Investing $12 to $15 million on an essential bench asset should be an easy pill to swallow, given that the organization was willing to invest in Malcolm Brogdon and his deal worth over $22 million per year. It should not about the money at this point after Boston went that deep into the luxury tax bill over the summer, putting them fifth-highest in the entire NBA in 2022. He not only has the best nickname on the team, but Williams also brings that carefree personality that his teammates and the fans of the Boston Celtics have embraced.

Williams has taken his game to a completely different level even the franchise that drafted him more than they could have imagined. He may have begun his career with 25 consecutive misses from beyond the arc, but Williams took that to heart, changing his game to become a more usable offensive player. Just like Horford at the beginning of his career, Williams has adapted his game to the modern NBA and is slowly becoming a “Horford-type” player defined by his work ethic, leadership, and attention to detail.

The former Florida star did not average one or more 3-pointers made per game until his last season with Atlanta. Having someone like Horford alongside Williams at the moment is invaluable for this team. Horford is the definition of consistency and has been an example for the rest of the young assets on the Boston Celtics. Last season, Williams became what Boston hoped Aaron Nesmith would become on top of his intelligence and ability to switch on multiple positions on the defensive end. He not only has brought his stroke into this season, but he has become more comfortable creating plays and putting the ball on the floor, making the task for the opposition’s defense almost insurmountable with either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown on the wing.

Grant Williams has earned ‘the bag’ from the Boston Celtics

Against the Brooklyn Nets on December 4, Grant Williams opened the game with back-to-back buckets. He faked a hand-off with Jaylen Brown and drove into the body of Joe Harris before he finished at the rim. Williams then broke up an 11-2 run by the Nets with his second basket of the game, driving the ball after a pump fake on the baseline, and wedging Nic Claxton out of position for Williams to bank in his second layup of the night.

That sequence of plays should tell Stevens all he needs to know in order to give as much money to Williams as he wants. Extensions have also been an essential piece to what Brad Stevens has done since his elevation to the front office. So far during this historic campaign, Williams has put up career-high numbers in both rebounds, points, and assists. He is not just a bench asset, or a security blanket, Williams is the perfect role player on and off the court for a championship team.

For the remainder of the season, it may be unlikely to hear of an announcement regarding Williams’ new contract because of his commitment to the season in front of him. Al Horford taking a pay cut could free up some space for Williams’ contract which could be worth over $50 million in total. His agents will be doing the work on the deal behind the scenes for the time being.

Just like Batman, Williams has added a new tool to his utility belt as he continues to experience what it is like in the heat of the battle. When the bat signal shines in the night sky in Boston, Batman is always prepared to put forth his best effort to stymie the enemy. Many people did not believe in Williams at the beginning of his career, but given the work he has put in to take his game to new heights, there should be no problem giving a critical role player a contract worth between $13-$15 million per year.