4 reasons Celtics must sign Grant Williams to contract extension in 2022 NBA offseason
Grant Williams has been a lot of things for the Boston Celtics.
He has been their goofy teammate off the bench who keeps it light in the locker room and insists on being called “Batman.” He has been a scrappy fighter diving for loose balls and getting into scuffles with big-name players like Draymond Green. Most recently, he has been an unfortunate punching bag, as ESPYs host and 2022 Finals MVP Stephen Curry fired jokes his way after Williams claimed the Celtics were the “better team” during the Finals.
Aside from all of these distractions, most importantly, Williams has been a pivotal role player for the Celtics. Coming off his best season in 2021-2022, the two-time SEC Player of the Year has exceeded expectations. While recent first-round draft picks such as Aaron Nesmith and Romeo Langford — both selected ahead of Williams — failed to pan out and are no longer with Boston, Williams earned his place on the team.
But with the Tennessee product entering the final year of his contract before becoming a restricted free agent in 2023, he is sure to want some reassurances from the front office that he belongs with the C’s. Boston can do that now by getting him an extension this offseason rather than waiting until he might have second thoughts next year. Moreover, small forward Keldon Johnson received a large extension this offseason and was a part of Williams’ draft class in 2019, so he might expect a similar deal sooner rather than later.
Although Williams is probably not worth the $80 million Johnson is going to accrue over the next four years, he has shown that he deserves an extension this 2022 NBA offseason for a variety of reasons.
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Why Celtics must sign Grant Williams to contract extension
4. 3-point shooting
In college, Grant Williams shot 29% from beyond the arc over the course of his three years, so he was never a true 3-point shooter. Last season, though, he shot an impressive 41% from deep and established himself as a knockdown player from the corner.
When Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and others were driving and drawing attention in the paint, Williams set up behind the arc, ready to connect on a 3-pointer as soon as it was dished to him. His ability to consistently hit from deep was crucial for Boston, as in years past they haven’t had a reliable 3-point shooter outside of Tatum and Brown. Although Williams is by no means a pure shooter or a 3-point specialist, the fact that the C’s have someone who can convert on an open triple more times than not is significant.
Along with improving his offensive per-game marks in points, field goal percentage, and 3-point percentage last season, Grant Williams also made great strides in his defensive game and increased his blocks and steals averages.
The 6’6″ forward who falls just under 250 pounds isn’t the quickest on his feet, yet Williams’ size and strength came in handy when he was faced with tough defensive assignments. He is not easy to back down in the paint, and he bettered his perimeter defense to become a more complete defender.
Even though Williams’ defense is not quite at the level of Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart or NBA All-Defensive Second-Teamer Robert Williams III, he was able to switch and defend both big men and guards. This versatility was very beneficial for Boston, especially in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
2. Past playoff performances
Where Grant Williams’ development was the most apparent last year was on the biggest stage, the NBA Playoffs.
For example, in the first round against the Brooklyn Nets, many thought the Celtics were in for a tough matchup with future Hall of Famers Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving eager to end Boston’s season. Instead, the C’s disposed of Brooklyn in a four-game sweep, in large part due to their defense.
A key piece of the defensive pressure that staggered Durant and company was Williams. He faced off against both Irving and Durant, and according to NBA Stats, when guarding them he held them to a meager 32% and 24% from the field, respectively. Although he was not the primary defender on Brooklyn’s stars, his harassing defense and refusal to back down kept them in check despite their excellent offensive capabilities.
In the next round versus Milwaukee, Williams was even better. He helped guard former Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to the best of his ability and even outplayed him during a Game 7 victory. That same game, Williams had 27 points — to Antetokounmpo’s 25 — on 7-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc. Those seven 3-point makes were the most ever in a Game 7.
Grant Williams career-high day:
That’s the most three-point makes and attempts ever in a Game 7. pic.twitter.com/6qvbxmT4CT
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 15, 2022
While Williams did have a forgettable performance against the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, his Game 7 heroics against the 2021 NBA champs shouldn’t be forgotten. Some will claim that his playoff run was a fluke, yet he also had a series-sealing block in Game 7 of Boston’s playoff series against Toronto in the 2020 NBA Bubble.
Overall, Williams saw a minutes increase in the 2022 NBA Playoffs and instead of shying away from it, he generally played well when it mattered most.
Put simply, the 23-year-old is young and still developing his game, meaning that he has even more room for improvement. Plus, Grant Williams has managed to stay relatively healthy in his three years, only missing five games last season. Health should not be undervalued in today’s NBA, and when teammates on expiring contracts like 36-year-old Al Horford are moving past their primes, Williams has yet to enter his.
This makes him an excellent candidate for a contract extension at the right price this 2022 NBA offseason.