Robert Williams, Season 5: Warping the Space-Time Continuum

Imbricus

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I was looking around for a Robert Williams thread to post into, and just saw an injury watch thread (which seemed like bad luck), so I thought I'd start one for him for season five.

What better way to launch it than with this NBA redraft of the 2018 class that would have him taken sixth (not 27th).

Some highlights:

A bouncy finisher who's excellent at cleaning the glass and blocking shots ... Two things set him apart from Mitchell Robinson (and most of the rim protectors of this archetype) ... For one thing, Williams is a trustworthy passer ... Williams also distinguishes himself from most other bigs with the way he can defend the perimeter ... The way he moves his feet and scrambles on the rare occasions he's beat off the dribble were a huge part of the Boston Celtics' dominant 2021-22 defense.
I love watching the guy play more than any other Celtic. I just hope Ime manages his minutes smartly.
 

TripleOT

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I was looking around for a Robert Williams thread to post into, and just saw an injury watch thread (which seemed like bad luck), so I thought I'd start one for him for season five.

What better way to launch it than with this NBA redraft of the 2018 class that would have him taken sixth (not 27th).

Some highlights:



I love watching the guy play more than any other Celtic. I just hope Ime manages his minutes smartly.
This is from that same redraft article, where they slot TL at 6, one ahead of Jaren Jackson Jr., and is impressive:

“The 2.0 assists he averaged last season might not sound like much, but his passing ability is truly unique when viewed in context. No one in league history matches or exceeds both of his career marks for block percentage (8.0) and assist percentage (10.5)”
 

m0ckduck

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“The 2.0 assists he averaged last season might not sound like much, but his passing ability is truly unique when viewed in context. No one in league history matches or exceeds both of his career marks for block percentage (8.0) and assist percentage (10.5)”
It's a great observation, that his passing sets him apart from other bigs. It's part of what gives me the (somewhat unsubstantiated) perception that he has an overall aptitude for the offensive part of the game and could develop a lot more here, given time and health.
 

The Raccoon

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It's a great observation, that his passing sets him apart from other bigs. It's part of what gives me the (somewhat unsubstantiated) perception that he has an overall aptitude for the offensive part of the game and could develop a lot more here, given time and health.
Everything really comes down to the last word in your post...!
 

bankshot1

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This belongs here

The only real question to TimeLord is can he stay on the court? To deny his almost prenatural shot blocking skills and how it impacts the team's defense and how it impacts the decison making of an opponent seems foolhardy or being contrary just to be contrary. TL does not need a 3 point shot or a mid-range jumper to be a starting 5 on a NBA championship contender. On a team with Tatum and Brown and Al and Smart, he's a 4th 5th option. And I want him in paint proxmity to O-board. I assume with some time and tutelage he can add some low post moves and paint skills on the offense. And if he finds a 12-15 foot jumper great. And the guy can shoot as evidenced by his decent FT %. What he needs is good health. His elite level of shot blocking and timing/reaction is rare and he is a marvel to watch.
 

bakahump

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Robert Williams is as close as an actual human can get to 2020s Bill Russell.

There I said it. Roast away.
 

128

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Robert Williams is as close as an actual human can get to 2020s Bill Russell.

There I said it. Roast away.
Russell was incredibly durable, and many of his blocked shots stayed inbounds, where teammates could collect them. That said, there are definitely similarities.
 

hellborn

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Man also hits his free throws, which doesn't’ t get enough love. I recalled him nailing his ft’s in the playoffs when some other guys weren’t, and looked it up: 25/28 for an .893 FT%
 

Jimbodandy

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Robert Williams is as close as an actual human can get to 2020s Bill Russell.

There I said it. Roast away.
Rob is a similar athlete in some ways defensively, but we're only talking one side of the ball here right? Russell averaged 15/22 for his career and led the league in rebounds a bunch of times. Probably would have led in steals and blocks a few times too, except that they didn't count them. But yeah, Rob definitely does some things that Russell did.
 

bakahump

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Wow...not as bad as I thought. And some agreement.

I did have the "Well Russell was 87 in the 2020s soooooo...." in the chamber.

Seriously yes I get that Russ was about 3 steps above TL talent wise. (OFF, Def, Durability). And is an all time LEGEND. But As some of you have concurred....there is some same in their game.
 

benhogan

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Wow...not as bad as I thought. And some agreement.

I did have the "Well Russell was 87 in the 2020s soooooo...." in the chamber.

Seriously yes I get that Russ was about 3 steps above TL talent wise. (OFF, Def, Durability). And is an all time LEGEND. But As some of you have concurred....there is some same in their game.
TL is a freak. Great court vision for a BIG. Watching him shoot FTs in the playoffs indicates that he could have a repeatable stroke

If he stays healthy, nobody has any idea what his ceiling is. DPOY? All-Star? but clearly not in the same ballpark as Russ
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Sorry if this was posted elsewhere but no long term concerns on TL's knee.

We have not heard from Rob this offseason but from talking to people behind the scenes, there is no long-term concern about his knee injury. No surgery was needed so ample rest this summer should have him at 100 percent in camp. He’s been posting some of his workout equipment/drills on Instagram and you can tell there’s a lot of strength training involved there. I don’t think we will see much new offense out of him next year but likely a push by the team’s coaching staff for him to be more aggressive with finishes/putbacks around the rim given the fact Boston will be stretching defenses more with their shooting additions.

https://www.masslive.com/celtics/2022/08/boston-celtics-mailbag-jaylen-brown-supermax-scenarios-payton-pritchards-potential-tampering-concerns.html
 

Euclis20

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That's great news - Rob's health has been a nagging concern of mine.
You and everyone else. If he was guaranteed to play 2000 regular season minutes and be healthy through the playoffs, he'd be one of the most valuable centers in the league (especially considering his contract).
 

BigSoxFan

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Sorry if this was posted elsewhere but no long term concerns on TL's knee.

We have not heard from Rob this offseason but from talking to people behind the scenes, there is no long-term concern about his knee injury. No surgery was needed so ample rest this summer should have him at 100 percent in camp. He’s been posting some of his workout equipment/drills on Instagram and you can tell there’s a lot of strength training involved there. I don’t think we will see much new offense out of him next year but likely a push by the team’s coaching staff for him to be more aggressive with finishes/putbacks around the rim given the fact Boston will be stretching defenses more with their shooting additions.

https://www.masslive.com/celtics/2022/08/boston-celtics-mailbag-jaylen-brown-supermax-scenarios-payton-pritchards-potential-tampering-concerns.html
Shooting addition singular now :(
 

Cesar Crespo

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He has good vision and can make a nice pass but this skill is largely overrated or the C's really underutilize it.

A 10.5% assist % is meh, and he's regressed the last 2 years. The 8.0% Block % is doing a lot of the work.

Last year, Jokic's assist % was 42.6%. Joel Embiid 23.5%, Kat 18.0%, Nurkic 16.6%, Bam 17.5%, Horford 16.4%, Mason Plumlee 16.4%, Steven Adams 16.1%, Vucevic 15.2%, Poeltl 14.0%, Jonas 14.0%, Harrell 13.9%, Looney 13.2%, Wood 12.2%. Quite a few more and then Time Lord 9.7%.

That 8.0% Block % is doing ALL the work. Even if you want to make the argument he's a good passer/think he's a good passer, using the 10.5% assist % to make that point is absurd.

edit: Also, his block % fell to 6.8% his first full year as a starter. It'll probably be closer to that number going forward. This makes me sound anti TL but I love TL. He's a unique player. The whole 8.0%/10.5% thing irks me.
 

joe dokes

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He has good vision and can make a nice pass but this skill is largely overrated or the C's really underutilize it.

A 10.5% assist % is meh, and he's regressed the last 2 years. The 8.0% Block % is doing a lot of the work.

Last year, Jokic's assist % was 42.6%. Joel Embiid 23.5%, Kat 18.0%, Nurkic 16.6%, Bam 17.5%, Horford 16.4%, Mason Plumlee 16.4%, Steven Adams 16.1%, Vucevic 15.2%, Poeltl 14.0%, Jonas 14.0%, Harrell 13.9%, Looney 13.2%, Wood 12.2%. Time Lord 9.7%.

That 8.0% Block % is doing ALL the work. Even if you want to make the argument he's a good passer/think he's a good passer, using the 10.5% assist % to make that point is absurd.

edit: Also, his block % fell to 6.8% his first full year as a starter. It'll probably be closer to that number going forward. This makes me sound anti TL but I love TL. He's a unique player. The whole 8.0%/10.5% thing irks me.
He doesn't get a lot of assists, but he is a good passer who doesn't stall the offense even if he gets the ball 20 feet out.
 

Euclis20

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He has good vision and can make a nice pass but this skill is largely overrated or the C's really underutilize it.

A 10.5% assist % is meh, and he's regressed the last 2 years. The 8.0% Block % is doing a lot of the work.

Last year, Jokic's assist % was 42.6%. Joel Embiid 23.5%, Kat 18.0%, Nurkic 16.6%, Bam 17.5%, Horford 16.4%, Mason Plumlee 16.4%, Steven Adams 16.1%, Vucevic 15.2%, Poeltl 14.0%, Jonas 14.0%, Harrell 13.9%, Looney 13.2%, Wood 12.2%. Quite a few more and then Time Lord 9.7%.

That 8.0% Block % is doing ALL the work. Even if you want to make the argument he's a good passer/think he's a good passer, using the 10.5% assist % to make that point is absurd.

edit: Also, his block % fell to 6.8% his first full year as a starter. It'll probably be closer to that number going forward. This makes me sound anti TL but I love TL. He's a unique player. The whole 8.0%/10.5% thing irks me.
90% Robert Williams' offensive skillset is a very, very familiar one: He's a super athletic center who can't create his own offense or shoot from outside the paint, generally his only responsibility on offense is to set good screens, crash the offensive boards, and convert lobs at a very high rate. The main difference between his offense and dozens of similar players is that Rob is a decent and willing passer, and makes quick (and smart) decisions with the ball. It's a nice skill to have in an offense that's trying to move away from ISO and more towards general ball movement, but it's easy to overstate how good he is at it (or how much it really matters), given that he's still the 4th or 5th player in any lineup that you'd want actually handling the ball at any time other than within a few feet of the rim.

Anytime someone says that Robert Williams is a good passer, it's always followed with the unspoken "for his role."
 
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Devizier

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Worth remembering that AST% is the percentage of team's total makes that a player assisted. So that's going to favor guys who are at the center of the offense like Jokic and certainly not quaternary/quinary scorers like Williams. Rob is a good passer, although that's not what makes the offense run.
 

Cesar Crespo

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It's crazy how deep the Luka draft is when Gary Trent Jr goes 23rd in a redraft.

The only players I'd might take before TL in that redraft are JJJ and WCJ. They are listed 7th and 8th. TL 6th. I'd probably take JJJ injury risk and all because he's just that good and he's still 22 for another week. He's actually younger than Ja by 36 days. He's got 22 months on Time Lord. I just couldn't turn down the potential, especially considering what he already is.

WCJ I'd have to think about more. I think he could have a break out season in 22/23, putting up something like 20/10/5 and playing respectable D. It really depends on how his 3 point shot develops and if his passing game continues to improve. But on a team with Tatum and Brown, I don't think the offense is really needed and the team may be better off with TL's defense.

Would anyone on this board actually take TL over JJJ in a redraft? Especially since they both have injury histories. I don't really get the argument for TL over JJJ unless one is really worried about his foot. WCJ, I get. He's on losing teams and hasn't put it all together yet.

Then there's the potential of Bamba. That draft had a lot of good, loooong young big men. And Marvin Bagley. Crazy when 7'1 wingspan looks awful. The 8'9 standing reach is really bad though.

For fun, Height, Wingspan, Standing Reach.
TL is 6'9, 7'6, 9'4.
JJJ is 6'11, 7'4, 9'1.
WCJ is 6'10, 7'5, 9'1.
MBIII is 6'11, 7'1, 8'9.
Ayton is 7'1, 7'6, 9'3
Bamba is 7'0, 7'10, 9'6.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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He has good vision and can make a nice pass but this skill is largely overrated or the C's really underutilize it.

A 10.5% assist % is meh, and he's regressed the last 2 years. The 8.0% Block % is doing a lot of the work.

Last year, Jokic's assist % was 42.6%. Joel Embiid 23.5%, Kat 18.0%, Nurkic 16.6%, Bam 17.5%, Horford 16.4%, Mason Plumlee 16.4%, Steven Adams 16.1%, Vucevic 15.2%, Poeltl 14.0%, Jonas 14.0%, Harrell 13.9%, Looney 13.2%, Wood 12.2%. Quite a few more and then Time Lord 9.7%.

That 8.0% Block % is doing ALL the work. Even if you want to make the argument he's a good passer/think he's a good passer, using the 10.5% assist % to make that point is absurd.

edit: Also, his block % fell to 6.8% his first full year as a starter. It'll probably be closer to that number going forward. This makes me sound anti TL but I love TL. He's a unique player. The whole 8.0%/10.5% thing irks me.
I would argue the bolded is a sign of improvement anyway. There are plenty of guys who can jump out of the gym and seem to block everything in sight but turn out to be pretty exploitable because chasing blocks is all they care about (or all they can do). I think it matches the eye test of TL being much more selective with his leaping, much to the benefit of the whole defense.
 

Cesar Crespo

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I would argue the bolded is a sign of improvement anyway. There are plenty of guys who can jump out of the gym and seem to block everything in sight but turn out to be pretty exploitable because chasing blocks is all they care about (or all they can do). I think it matches the eye test of TL being much more selective with his leaping, much to the benefit of the whole defense.
That and some of it is energy. They have far more of it to waste in 20 minute roles than 30. Almost every big time shot blocker sees a drop in Block % with an increase in minutes.
 

Jimbodandy

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90% Robert Williams' offensive skillset is a very, very familiar one: He's a super athletic center who can't create his own offense or shoot from outside the paint, generally his only responsibility on offense is to set good screens, crash the offensive boards, and convert lobs at a very high rate. The main difference between his offense and dozens of similar players is that Rob is a decent and willing passer, and makes quick (and smart) decisions with the ball. It's a nice skill to have in an offense that's trying to move away from ISO and more towards general ball movement, but it's easy to overstate how good he is at it (or how much it really matters), given that he's still the 4th or 5th player in any lineup that you'd want actually handling the ball at any time other than within a few feet of the rim.

Anytime someone says that Robert Williams is a good passer, it's always followed with the unspoken "for his role."
This is a great post. Rob is an excellent passer for a rim-running screen setter who takes a 15 foot face-up jumper once a month. It's better than if he couldn't/didn't pass at all, because then it would be a hell of a lot easier to defend P&R with him because he doesn't create his own shot ever.

This sounds down on Rob as an offensive player, but it's not. I love his rim running, and he sets pretty good screens. But let's keep it in context.
 

Sprowl

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Williams' maturation as a defender consisted in part of learning when to keep his feet on the floor -- that is, understanding that he couldn't and didn't need to block every shot. Sometimes maintaining the threat of rim protection by not going for the fake is more important than maximizing block%.
 

ManicCompression

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The only players I'd might take before TL in that redraft are JJJ and WCJ.
Do you mean specifically centers or bigs rather than players?

Would anyone on this board actually take TL over JJJ in a redraft?
I think it depends on the team. Memphis really needs JJJ to play a large offensive role whereas the Cs don't need that as much because of Tatum and Brown.

And as injured as TL is, JJJ is no picture of health. He's also still so foul prone, which is an aspect of TLs game that he's really, really improved on. I'd rather have TL and his contract than JJJ and his, but JJJ is probably the more talented player in a vacuum. I think the same about Ayton, who has more offensive skill and size, but I'd rather have TL for this team.

There's just a structural problem to any team with a big as a top player or feature in their offense, particularly if they can't create or shoot threes. They can drive great regular success, but every offseason we see it exploited because they naturally limit flexibility on both ends of the court. I'd rather have the ideal complementary player in Robert Williams (low usage, great team D, able to switch) than a big who's a focal point making close to max money.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Do you mean specifically centers or bigs rather than players?



I think it depends on the team. Memphis really needs JJJ to play a large offensive role whereas the Cs don't need that as much because of Tatum and Brown.

And as injured as TL is, JJJ is no picture of health. He's also still so foul prone, which is an aspect of TLs game that he's really, really improved on. I'd rather have TL and his contract than JJJ and his, but JJJ is probably the more talented player in a vacuum. I think the same about Ayton, who has more offensive skill and size, but I'd rather have TL for this team.

There's just a structural problem to any team with a big as a top player or feature in their offense, particularly if they can't create or shoot threes. They can drive great regular success, but every offseason we see it exploited because they naturally limit flexibility on both ends of the court. I'd rather have the ideal complementary player in Robert Williams (low usage, great team D, able to switch) than a big who's a focal point making close to max money.
I meant everyone rated 7 and below. They just happened to be bigs. I worded it poorly.
 

Imbricus

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For fun, Height, Wingspan, Standing Reach.
TL is 6'9, 7'6, 9'4.
JJJ is 6'11, 7'4, 9'1.
WCJ is 6'10, 7'5, 9'1.
MBIII is 6'11, 7'1, 8'9.
Ayton is 7'1, 7'6, 9'3
Bamba is 7'0, 7'10, 9'6.
Seeing this reminded me that I looked up Kevin McHale's wingspan recently, and wow. I knew he had long arms but: 8' 0". Even more impressive than Time Lord's being 6' 9" and having a 7' 6" wingspan. With McHale, part of it was certainly the broad shoulders.
 

Eddie Jurak

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He has good vision and can make a nice pass but this skill is largely overrated or the C's really underutilize it.

A 10.5% assist % is meh, and he's regressed the last 2 years. The 8.0% Block % is doing a lot of the work.

Last year, Jokic's assist % was 42.6%. Joel Embiid 23.5%, Kat 18.0%, Nurkic 16.6%, Bam 17.5%, Horford 16.4%, Mason Plumlee 16.4%, Steven Adams 16.1%, Vucevic 15.2%, Poeltl 14.0%, Jonas 14.0%, Harrell 13.9%, Looney 13.2%, Wood 12.2%. Quite a few more and then Time Lord 9.7%.

That 8.0% Block % is doing ALL the work. Even if you want to make the argument he's a good passer/think he's a good passer, using the 10.5% assist % to make that point is absurd.
Cleaning the glass ranks players by Assist rate:Usage rate. It stands to reason that a player needs to have the ball to rack up assists.

By that measure, Rob was in the 88th percentile among bigs, with an assist:usage of 0.90.

The top Celtics last season, by percentile:
1. Al, 95th, 1.04
2. Rob, 88th, 0.90
3. Smart, 79th, 1.19 (the percentile is lower despite the better ratio because Marcus is listed as a combo guard)
4. Tatum, 55th, 0.55 (forward)
5. White, 51st, 0.91

Some of the bigs you mention:
1. Jokic, 99th, 1.20
2. Embiid, 65th, 0.63
3. Towns, 69th, 0.67
4. Turkic, 73rd, 0.68
5. Bam, 75th, 0.70

Jokic is in a different class, but the others aren't. Although Rob isn't going to step his usage up to anywhere near theirs, either.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Per Woj:

Knee Surgery - Out 4 to 6 weeks. I’ve had a bad feeling about this upcoming season for him since the playoffs. Ugh
 

BigSoxFan

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This doesn't necessarily mean the C's were lying. Maybe he tweaked it during a workout. Or maybe he's just destined to never be 100 percent.
Yeah, not really accusing the Celtics of lying or anything. I think your last sentence is the sad reality here. TL is going to miss time every year with this. We just have to hope one of these years he can remain somewhat healthy for the games that matter. I don't really care about the regular season. If they're the #3 or #4 seed instead of #1 or #2, so be it.
 

128

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I don't really care about the regular season. If they're the #3 or #4 seed instead of #1 or #2, so be it.
Agreed. Everyone talks about the impact of Middleton's injury on the Bucks, but if Time Lord is 100 percent in the playoffs, I'm guessing the C's would be NBA champions right now. He's crucial.
 
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TripleOT

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It will be interesting to see if this team can win big out of the gate without Timelord. I’m not thrilled about Kornet playing regular minutes, unless he can again be a plus shooter from three. Not crazy about putting a lot of early miles on Horford at center either. One of the scrap heap bigs need to step up and grab that rotation big job. I’d like it to be Kabengele.
 

BigSoxFan

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It will be interesting to see if this team can win big out of the gate without Timelord. I’m not thrilled about Kornet playing regular minutes, unless he can again be a plus shooter from three. Not crazy about putting a lot of early miles on Horford at center either. One of the scrap heap bigs need to step up and grab that rotation big job. I’d like it to be Kabengele.
It’s a hell of an opportunity for someone, that’s for sure. Highly visible role for a team that’ll be on national tv a ton and will get a lot of exposure.
 

radsoxfan

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Hindsight is 20/20 and of course if the Celtics won the title things might feel differently…

But Rob playing on an obviously hurting knee has the potential to really alter the course of his career. There’s of course no way to know if playing changed anything, he could be in exactly the same situation now regardless.But playing NBA basketball on a clearly painful and inflamed knee shortly after partial meniscetomy isn’t ideal. I hope his cartilage isn’t too badly damaged.

The plan for surgical trim and 4 weeks rehab made sense, not surprised or upset that he came back for most of the playoffs. But when he was clearly hobbled it does make you wonder if it was time to shut it down.

Again, zero way to know that’s changing the course here. This could just be the natural progression of things and he may have needed another clean up anyway. But certainly is concerning until proven otherwise.
 

Lazy vs Crazy

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The curse of Ed Lacerte strikes again.

I mean, once we learned they had to drain fluid from his knee regularly it felt like a mistake to bring him back to me. The timing also tells me he probably hasn't been able to do much work this offseason so he'll probably be rusty coming back, and is unlikely to make improvements that we hoped to see.
 

bakahump

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Whats more troubling is that the "Combo" that is TL is imho harder to replace then Jaylen or Marcus. Tatum probably just beats him out.
He is a totally unique talent that we basically built the D around......and now he wont be around for a bit....and may never be around enough.

Not like we can go get another plug and play timelord.
 

lexrageorge

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R Williams' injury is yet another reason why last year's Finals loss does hurt, and another reminder that a return trip is anything but a certainty, no matter the preseason odds.

The real question is whether the knee will quiet down enough for him to be productive for the 2nd half of this season playing, say, 3 out of every 4 games or so. If so, then we'll take that. If not, then it's "Houston, we have a problem" time.
 

NDame616

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Oh shit. What happened to 4-6?
IMO that was joke to begin with. 4 weeks after doing some intense knee cleanup? I think it was buying time to announce the real timeline.

I'd also bet my mortgage on it being closer to 12 weeks than 8

FAKE EDIT:
read the tweet carefully. "Return to basketball activities" is pretty open ended. Does that mean they expect in 12 weeks that he will begin warm ups and light workouts on the court? If so, they don't expect him to return to games until February.
 

radsoxfan

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There’s no magic number here, doesn’t sound like they did any “repair” that specifically takes a certain number of weeks to heal.

Removal of loose bodies is code for cartilage damage and arthritis, obviously not good news. Probably got in there with a scope and realized how bad it really is.

Basically they are saying let’s REALLY let this thing calm down this time. 2-3 months of rest and hope for the best.
 

Mooch

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There’s no magic number here, doesn’t sound like they did any “repair” that specifically takes a certain number of weeks to heal.

Removal of loose bodies is code for cartilage damage and arthritis, obviously not good news. Probably got in there with a scope and realized how bad it really is.

Basically they are saying let’s REALLY let this thing calm down this time. 2-3 months of rest and hope for the best.
I can't imagine that level of damage bodes well for a long career, eh Doc? I mean, loss of cartilage on that scale and the arthritis would get worse over time, right?
 

radsoxfan

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I can't imagine that level of damage bodes well for a long career, eh Doc? I mean, loss of cartilage on that scale and the arthritis would get worse over time, right?
These things don’t always progress linearly, and I would be purely guessing without the MRI.

But generally speaking…

A partial mensicetomy followed by 4 weeks of rest, then hobbling around in the playoffs, a few months off, a scope to remove loose bodies followed by presumably a few more months of rest.

I can’t say it’s giving me warm and fuzzy feelings.