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

reggiecleveland

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I don't know why they never run that for JT? The Celtics used to run that play for Pierce all the time.
My guess is they are committed to motion and slowing it for the post triangle is not what they want to do. Mos to of their post ups with Smart, Al are quick flashes. Also they are all shooters so other than TL the d is tight on guys making the high low pass tougher. Pierce was more old school and in his era he probably learned post-moves first as one of the tallest kids in the gym. JT has been an elite wing since he was 12, in the NBA at 19 so he has understandably added the post-game later. Post Shaq the league allows defenders to push the post out more.
 

Kliq

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After going 5-6 last night, Robert Williams has tied Rudy Gobert's NBA record of consecutive games shooting 50% or better from the field, at 64 games. He's shooting 76% from the field this season, and out of his 57 made field goals this year, 31 of them have been dunks.
 

amarshal2

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I don’t come around here much lately but I was expecting to see a discussion of Time Lord as a defensive player this year.

I for the first time looked up some stats to see if they confirmed what my eyes have been telling me. I’ll start with the stats so you can see if they surprise you before I share my hypothesis /thinking.

per 36 min rates by year in chronological order starting with his 2nd year:
blocks: 3.2, 3.3, 2.7, 1.9
Boards: 11.9, 13.1, 11.7, 12.6
Steals: 2.0, 1.6, 1.1, 0.8
PF: 4.7, 3.8, 2.7, 2.4
MPG: 13.4, 18.9, 29.6, 23.1

What my eyes were telling me: I’ve noticed TL going for way fewer blocks. He used to go for literally every block in a way that was unhelpful and could actually hurt them in rebounding. I’ve been wondering if this is an intentional change that was resulting in better rebounding.

Looking at the stats I think there’s some evidence for that story. His rebounding is up, his fouls are down, and his blocks are way down.

Looking at the stats and watching him play though he also seems less active. His steals are down in a borderline concerning way . He’s certainly not jumping as much or getting as high. If this is about staying healthy I’m supportive. I have seen him soar on occasion, so I don’t think he can’t be that .0001% freak athlete guy anymore…at least I hope not. The whole team has made basically no effort to be a great defensive team this year IMO. They’ve been fine.

But if this is the TL we get going forward I wonder if the balance is off. I appreciate the rebounding a lot. But when it counts think he needs to assert himself, particularly early in games. He’s nowhere near fouling out and they’re a great defensive rebounding team. It’s worth giving up an o-board and some fouls early if it deters teams from even entering the paint in the middle and later parts of the game when he’s in there. Or just mature as a player and be better all around at knowing when to try and block and when to hold position as we’ve been hoping.

I’m curious for others thoughts. He’s a good, integral player right now no doubt. But he has the chance to be a third star on this team and separate himself and increase their title odds/dominance going forward and right now he’s not that and his trajectory is perhaps different than ~10 months ago. Or not. what say you.
 

Euclis20

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I think there's still too much noise in a small sample (he's played less than 1/4 of his total minutes from last year) to draw any real conclusions, especially considering the combination of injury and rust. He also has more of a reputation now than he did for much of his pro career. I can't find it now, but there was a tweet recently showing big men stats when defending in the paint, and players are less likely to attack TL at the rim than just about any other player in the league. That would certainly decrease his block numbers, even as it pays dividends in other ways defensively.

The numbers have definitely moved (in both good and bad ways), but I can't draw any real conclusions at this point. I'll say they've looked like a borderline elite defense again since he came back, which is good enough for now.
 

benhogan

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Rob has definitely toned it down from previous seasons. Helping a little less from the weak side. Working his way back from surgery.

The whole team, other than White, has taken their defense down a notch. In no particular order: Smart, Tatum, Grant, Brogdon have only been locked in defensively in late/close.

Joe seems fine with it and is letting Tatum quit on transition D a few times a game. IME is rolling in his coaching grave.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I think there's still too much noise in a small sample (he's played less than 1/4 of his total minutes from last year) to draw any real conclusions, especially considering the combination of injury and rust. He also has more of a reputation now than he did for much of his pro career. I can't find it now, but there was a tweet recently showing big men stats when defending in the paint, and players are less likely to attack TL at the rim than just about any other player in the league. That would certainly decrease his block numbers, even as it pays dividends in other ways defensively.

The numbers have definitely moved (in both good and bad ways), but I can't draw any real conclusions at this point. I'll say they've looked like a borderline elite defense again since he came back, which is good enough for now.
I was at the Knicks game and there were back to back plays where someone got into the lane, sensed TL, paused, and didn’t attack the rim. I bet that goes on a ton now with him.
 

Euclis20

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I was at the Knicks game and there were back to back plays where someone got into the lane, sensed TL, paused, and didn’t attack the rim. I bet that goes on a ton now with him.
Yup, anecdotally it seems to happen a lot. Or we get a play like when Barrett drove, saw Timelord swooping in, and tried to lay it up high off the glass....ended up going off the shot clock.
 

chilidawg

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Rob has definitely toned it down from previous seasons. Helping a little less from the weak side. Working his way back from surgery.

The whole team, other than White, has taken their defense down a notch. In no particular order: Smart, Tatum, Grant, Brogdon have only been locked in defensively in late/close.

Joe seems fine with it and is letting Tatum quit on transition D a few times a game. IME is rolling in his coaching grave.
Joe has called a TO at least 3 times in the last 2 games immediately after a Tatum sulk. I don't think he's fine with it.
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Yup, anecdotally it seems to happen a lot. Or we get a play like when Barrett drove, saw Timelord swooping in, and tried to lay it up high off the glass....ended up going off the shot clock.
I agree that at least some of the drop in blocks is that guys don't challenge him because his reputation precedes him. Teams change their offense entirely sometimes when he's in there.
 

lovegtm

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Last night's 100% shooting included this mid-range jump shot. Man, can you imagine how amazing he'd be if he could take these and make them consistently?

View: https://streamable.com/yphiy3
Counterpoint: while hitting these at ~50% would be near the top end of what he could probably do, it wouldn't change defenses that much, because it's not even better than what the Celtics get in their normal half-court offense.

Jaylen/Tatum/White/Brogdon are different here: if you leave them wide-open in the midrange, they're going to hit way over 50%, and so no one lets them do that.

Rob could open up the offense if he made these at 60% wide open, and forced defenses to hug up on him, but it's a tough ask to get to that point.
 

Euclis20

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Counterpoint: while hitting these at ~50% would be near the top end of what he could probably do, it wouldn't change defenses that much, because it's not even better than what the Celtics get in their normal half-court offense.

Jaylen/Tatum/White/Brogdon are different here: if you leave them wide-open in the midrange, they're going to hit way over 50%, and so no one lets them do that.

Rob could open up the offense if he made these at 60% wide open, and forced defenses to hug up on him, but it's a tough ask to get to that point.
Maybe, but for his career he's shooting .556 from 10-16 feet out (and .664 from the free throw line). It's not the strangest thing ever to imagine he could shoot 60% on wide open mid-range jumpers, and that doing so might open up the paint a bit when he's in the game.
 

lovegtm

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Maybe, but for his career he's shooting .556 from 10-16 feet out (and .664 from the free throw line). It's not the strangest thing ever to imagine he could shoot 60% on wide open mid-range jumpers, and that doing so might open up the paint a bit when he's in the game.
The .664 from the FT line makes me pretty skeptical he's anywhere close to being able to knock down 55%+ open jumpers right now, because in-game jumpers, even open ones, are wayyyy harder than FTs.

I think it would be an interesting addition to his arsenal, and certainly more doable than adding a 3-ball. Just think people need to temper expectations heavily.
 

Euclis20

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The .664 from the FT line makes me pretty skeptical he's anywhere close to being able to knock down 55%+ open jumpers right now, because in-game jumpers, even open ones, are wayyyy harder than FTs.

I think it would be an interesting addition to his arsenal, and certainly more doable than adding a 3-ball. Just think people need to temper expectations heavily.
For sure (and he is up to .708 since the start of last year), it's just to note that he seems to have slightly better touch than the typical low usage rim-running big. I think he needs something offensively at this point, whether it's a basic post move when he has a guy pinned deep or a mid-range jumper to keep teams honest, as opposed to generally what he does now when he gets the ball out of the flow of a real play (getting rid of the ball asap without so much as a glance at the basket).

A 3 point shot is definitely completely out of the question, as a best case scenario there would seem to have him hitting maybe a third of those shots (when wide open) and not only does the math not work there, it takes him farther away from his two greatest offensive strengths (vertical spacing and offensive rebounding).
 

slamminsammya

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Counterpoint: while hitting these at ~50% would be near the top end of what he could probably do, it wouldn't change defenses that much, because it's not even better than what the Celtics get in their normal half-court offense.

Jaylen/Tatum/White/Brogdon are different here: if you leave them wide-open in the midrange, they're going to hit way over 50%, and so no one lets them do that.

Rob could open up the offense if he made these at 60% wide open, and forced defenses to hug up on him, but it's a tough ask to get to that point.
Yeah, I truly do not understand people pining for Rob to add shooting to his game. I think the team still severely underuses the lob. The only thing he could do to realistically level up his game offensively is develop his passing game more, IMO.
 

tbrown_01923

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I don't love him passing up unguarded 10 footers, and I think he could hit them reliability enough. Question is what does that number need to be to generate any gravity. 50%, 60%? With a bit of gravity the give and go lob will be next level fun...
 

jablo1312

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Have kind of been feeling similar to this over the past few weeks:

View: https://twitter.com/dangercart/status/1630596976550002688?s=20


Not that he's playing horribly or anything, just doesn't seem to be having quite the same impact around the basket on both ends as in the 2h of last year. Whether he's still playing back from the surgey, not pushing himself as hard as possible, or is experiencing the effects of some diminished athleticism i don't know- it could also be in my head. His per 36 min numbers are very similar to last year outside of blocks (down from 2.7 to 1.7) and steals (down from 1.1 to 0.7). As you might expect, his block % is down from 6.8% to 4.0%, and his "catch-all" defensive metrics are down across the board i.e. DBPM down from 3.1 to 1.6, defensive rating down from 102 to 109 (this could be for a number of reasons outside of his control). Curious what people here think as the defense of the 2 big lineup with him on the floor last season was a huge reason for the 2nd half turn around and post season run.
 

Ed Hillel

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He's looked different to me as well, most notably since he bumped knees with Jaylen like a month ago. He seemed to have been rounding into form before that, now I just don't see the same spring and dominance in the paint. He's still a good player, but it's really not the same.
 

chilidawg

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Ben Hogan's post from the General Celtics Thread:

Horford/TimeLord playing together, using Adv Off/Def Rtg
Last year: 761 minutes 113.2 // 99.9 // +13.3
This year: 267 minutes 119.7 // 101.8 // +17.9

Combing Rob and Al on the floor isn't a problem.
 

InstaFace

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Looked better tonight. Still has that lightning-quick reflex that just has him move sooner than the opponent to get to a ball.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Looked better tonight. Still has that lightning-quick reflex that just has him move sooner than the opponent to get to a ball.
So my brother (track coach) says that based on Rob's movements it doesn't like he is playing through anything. He does look less explosive, but that could be because he didn't have a normal offseason training regimen because of the surgery and rehab.

I agree that last night he at least flashed his more explosive self.
 

amarshal2

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I’ve been concerned about this for a while (see my post up thread in January). He doesn’t look like a super freakish athlete for the nba anymore. He just looks slightly freakish. I can’t tell for sure if his activity is down or his capability is down but I suspect it’s capability. He was unable to stop Mitchell last night (along with the rest of the team). But last year I feel like he would’ve just buckled down and swatted one of Mitchell’s drives to deter him. He couldn’t/didn’t last night.

I have similar feelings about the offensive side. Last year during that run whenever they had hit a rut invariably they’d run a lob play of some sort to get an easy bucket and put up some points. They don’t do that very much anymore. It was totally unguardable and resulted in points 80% of the time in pick and roll.

Unrelated but he also passes out if the low post too much when he could take a giant step and leap to get the dunk or get to the line.
 
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benhogan

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So my brother (track coach) says that based on Rob's movements it doesn't like he is playing through anything. He does look less explosive, but that could be because he didn't have a normal offseason training regimen because of the surgery and rehab.

I agree that last night he at least flashed his more explosive self.
1. Not only did he not have a "normal offseason" he had his 2nd surgery within 6 months.
2. No summer training program
3. Missed training camp & the preseason.
4. Started playing in the middle of December with limited minutes.
5. Load managed, playing in 3/4 of the games over the last 2.5months
6. Slowly improving week to week.

TL is 10 weeks removed from initially stepping on an NBA floor. Ramping up, and prepping for the playoffs.

I have to think TimeLord is pretty much on schedule to start peaking by the end of April
 

RorschachsMask

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I think he’s also trying to preserve himself for the playoffs, which is a trade off I’d take all day….if that is the case.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Does anyone remember what Doris said last night about TL taking care of his body? IIRC, she said that Tatum was impressed about how much better TL currently is about taking care of his body and she implied that had to do with TL not necessarily going all out every play but I might be misremembering.
 

InstaFace

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You know, that's part of what I've been thinking in watching him the last few games. Because for me, and I imagine for a lot of people here, he draws my eye off-ball like nobody else does - I basically have to account for him as a viewer the way that opponents have to account for him on the court. And what I see is a guy who like 50-60% of the time will make his full-effort play, jump absurdly high to get a tip on something. Like 20-30% of the time he'll make a partial-effort play, not really trying to box out or get around a box-out on a 3 shot, not rolling off the screen with energy, etc. And like 10-20% of the time he'll just coast, not make the effort at all (and I don't mean on situations where he has no play whatsoever, I mean plays that are within his range as a player). And sure, even stars take some possessions off. But what it seemed to me was, he's avoiding situations where he might come down awkwardly*, or in a cluster of bodies that might make it tough to land. If so, one of two things is true:

1. TL is toning it down for regular season games, but has the capacity to go max-effort more often when the context changes to the playoffs.
2. TL has a mental block about "going for it" on a certain set of plays, given his injury, which would be perfectly understandable but is not something that's going to change soon.

Either way, what we're seeing is the team trying to ramp up his minutes in preparation for a full playoff load. He has sat out one out of every 3-5 games since coming back, but for the ones he's played, he's gotten more into the upper 20s / low 30s recently. 1/24 @ MIA is the first time he crossed 30' all year. And being able to have the endurance for those minutes out there is step 1, step 2 would be having the reserves to compete for every play during those minutes. I'd much prefer he sits out a greater fraction of games between now and mid April, but for the ones he plays, we start seeing both more minutes and a higher fraction of intensity.

* remember where he randomly crashed onto the floor underneath the basket as Mitchell made yet-another-layup in the 2Q or 3Q last night? freaked me out. I still didn't get a full reply on what made a guy his size end up hitting the deck, without being hurt. Like, he's not the kind to try and take a charge.
 

slamminsammya

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Here is my take - it's hard to look like that freak athlete when guys aren't giving him the lobs where he can show it off. Once again I come to you saying they do not utilize his lob threat nearly enough.
 

Leon Trotsky

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He got an absurdly high rebound tip last night over either Mobley or Allen that looked plenty athletic to me, just like the old Timelord. I am in the camp he has been trying to reserve a little to make it the rest of the way through the season.
 

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He got an absurdly high rebound tip last night over either Mobley or Allen that looked plenty athletic to me, just like the old Timelord. I am in the camp he has been trying to reserve a little to make it the rest of the way through the season.
He also rejected a Garland floater which looked like vintage Rob.
 

Strike4

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Does anyone remember what Doris said last night about TL taking care of his body? IIRC, she said that Tatum was impressed about how much better TL currently is about taking care of his body and she implied that had to do with TL not necessarily going all out every play but I might be misremembering.
Yes, there was a talking points segment that seems to align with TL now getting back into things and shaking off the rust.
 

phineas gage

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I'm only a fan that watches the games and I have nothing to back my opinion, but I think TL is one of the smartest players on the team (and my favorite to watch). He is extremely vocal and often seems to be directing the other players, particularly in the defensive sets. I think he is managing his recovery and is calculating enough to determine when to give maximum effort and when to ease up a bit in the context of team dynamics, all with a focus of being able to go full out come playoff time.
 

NomarsFool

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I thought he looked better last night. There was one play where I was shocked he didn't just dunk it and instead he passed out (I think it may have eventually come back to him for a dunk - can't remember for sure). So, that gave me a little bit of concern maybe he was still feeling a little timid at times.
 

tbrown_01923

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The play where he was maybe 6 feet from the hoop and he handed off to Smart (i think). It was certainly an area I expected him to move on the hoop, but he has been pretty consistent in moving the ball along all season if he doesn't have a 95% dunk.
 

Eddie Jurak

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The athletic thing that stands out to me as really separating Rob from typical athletic bigs is his mobility, which is most notable in the defensuve end. At peak form he covers an incredible amount of ground. That is why the "put him on a corner shooter and let him do help defense on drives" defense worked so well. Rob could both help underneath and get out to contest the corner three. Otherwise the offensive solution to this defense would just be "put a shooter in the corner." it also comes into play when Rob gets out to block an above the break three.

Haven't seen him covering that kind of ground all that often this year.

Rob also has a career low block rate. Last year he was at 6.8%, this year 4.0% and actually not leading the Celtics (Kornet, 5.6%).

He has had 2 blocks in each of his past 2 games. But before that he had a weird stretch of almost no blocks. In the month of February, he played 9 of 11 games, averaged decent minutes (26.3 per game), and had a block rate of 0.9. That included a 6 game stretch where he had only 2 blocks.
 

Van Everyman

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Can we merge this discussion with the “Time to Worry” thread and just put all of the OTT handwringing about this awesome Celtics team in one place?
 

slamminsammya

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The athletic thing that stands out to me as really separating Rob from typical athletic bigs is his mobility, which is most notable in the defensuve end. At peak form he covers an incredible amount of ground. That is why the "put him on a corner shooter and let him do help defense on drives" defense worked so well. Rob could both help underneath and get out to contest the corner three. Otherwise the offensive solution to this defense would just be "put a shooter in the corner." it also comes into play when Rob gets out to block an above the break three.

Haven't seen him covering that kind of ground all that often this year.

Rob also has a career low block rate. Last year he was at 6.8%, this year 4.0% and actually not leading the Celtics (Kornet, 5.6%).

He has had 2 blocks in each of his past 2 games. But before that he had a weird stretch of almost no blocks. In the month of February, he played 9 of 11 games, averaged decent minutes (26.3 per game), and had a block rate of 0.9. That included a 6 game stretch where he had only 2 blocks.
A lot of block rate has to do with guys giving you the opportunity to get blocks. Once you get a reputation you force passes instead of shot attempts. I think TL at this point is known to be a freak - guys go at Kornet a lot when they maybe should not.
 

Eddie Jurak

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A lot of block rate has to do with guys giving you the opportunity to get blocks. Once you get a reputation you force passes instead of shot attempts. I think TL at this point is known to be a freak - guys go at Kornet a lot when they maybe should not.
I don't think the league learned anything new about Rob this year.
 

SteveF

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Was looking at DFG% on shots <6 feet and Williams is at 53.3% and 3.3 DFGA this year compared to 51.9% and 4.0 DFGA last year. So slightly worse and fewer opportunities whether by virtue of scheme or opponents making different choices when they do get to the rim.

There's been an uptick in FG% at the rim league wide over the past few seasons while the block % has remained roughly the same (7% of rim attempts get blocked, generally). I'm not sure what to make of that. ( I assume a big part of the uptick this season is the take foul change.)
 

TripleOT

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Rob had played with reckless abandon his first few years in the rotation, and paid the price when injured. It looks to me like he is making a concerted effort to play with his legs under him as much as possible, not getting into awkward positions when fully extended or in a full jump. He is not trying to block everything, not closing out like Superman on three point shooters, and not trying to spike dunk every time he’s got the ball near the bucket.

He told Abby Chin he was going to ramp up his effort in the Cavs’ game, and did so. I’m perfectly fine with Rob playing more restrained basketball in the regular season. I think the Celts are 13-4 with Rob starting this season.
 

Euclis20

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Rob had played with reckless abandon his first few years in the rotation, and paid the price when injured. It looks to me like he is making a concerted effort to play with his legs under him as much as possible, not getting into awkward positions when fully extended or in a full jump. He is not trying to block everything, not closing out like Superman on three point shooters, and not trying to spike dunk every time he’s got the ball near the bucket.

He told Abby Chin he was going to ramp up his effort in the Cavs’ game, and did so. I’m perfectly fine with Rob playing more restrained basketball in the regular season. I think the Celts are 13-4 with Rob starting this season.
I'm getting that same feeling watching him, and I'm not sure it's a good thing. I believe it was early last year, Tatum was asked which other Celtic (other than Jaylen) could become an all-star someday, and his answer (that I think everyone would agree with) was Robert Williams. This more restrained version is a pretty effective player and a key part of the big man rotation, but he's not the same guy who was 2nd team all-defense last year, and he doesn't look like someone who could be an all-star someday. If this version can remain healthy and available for the playoffs, is that a worthwhile tradeoff? This team's ceiling just isn't quite as high when TL isn't the all-world defender he was for large stretches of last year.
 
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TripleOT

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I'm getting that same feeling watching him, and I'm not sure it's a good thing. I believe it was early last year, Tatum was asked which other Celtic (other than Jaylen) could become an all-star someday, and his answer (that I think everyone would agree with) was Robert Williams. This more restrained version is a pretty effective player and a key part of the big man rotation, but he's not the same guy who was 2nd team all-defense last year, and he doesn't look like someone who could be an all-star someday. If this version can remain healthy and available for the playoffs, maybe that's a worthwhile trade-off.
Hopefully, Rob is ramping up. I wonder if Blake Griffin is in his ear, and that is having an effect on Rob’s more cautious playing style. Blake went from being one of the most athletic, highest flying bigs in league history to a floor bound charge taking 14th man. I love the high flying Timelord, but this Rob Williams will help the Celtics win a lot of games. Hopefully, there will be a switch to flip in the playoffs.
 
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Fishy1

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I'm getting that same feeling watching him, and I'm not sure it's a good thing. I believe it was early last year, Tatum was asked which other Celtic (other than Jaylen) could become an all-star someday, and his answer (that I think everyone would agree with) was Robert Williams. This more restrained version is a pretty effective player and a key part of the big man rotation, but he's not the same guy who was 2nd team all-defense last year, and he doesn't look like someone who could be an all-star someday. If this version can remain healthy and available for the playoffs, is that a worthwhile tradeoff? This team's ceiling just isn't quite as high when TL isn't the all-world defender he was for large stretches of last year.
I think he definitely plans to ramp up for the playoffs and paly harder. I'm absolutely fine with him taking it relatively easy on limited minutes during the regular season, especially since we're already the best team in the NBA by the numbers. If it keeps him healthy, it's 1000% worth it.
 

Van Everyman

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Or maybe this is part of holding back by not playing through injuries? Either way I don’t think the world is ending by Rob taking a week or so off and giving Grant some minutes.
 

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Maine
I totally recognize that Rob is a Unique player and amazing athlete. I do wonder if he is as amazing as we think.
I am NOT saying that his production (when healthy) isnt impressive.
I guess what I am suggesting is could it be how he is Implemented here? The "Free Safety Role". Having Marcus and Jayson on a same defense.

IOW.....could different top 20% "big man Athlete" provide similar production with more durability? (and by top 20% I mean a "top 20% athlete" in the NBA.....which I think is a fair assesement of what TL was/occasion still is).

IOOW.....IF we had to replace Rob.....who in the NBA could do so athletically/physically? I do not buy that he is a "unicorn". But I do understand that a "Kornet" or a "Kabengele" is not a plug and play replacement.

So....assuming the worst....and Ignoring for a moment any acquisition cost.....If you had to Replace Rob....who is your candidates?
For Instance...... Jarette Allen or Evan Mobley Or Nic Claxton.

Once we create that list.....then we can pair down who is untouchable....who is expensive and who is "possible". All while fitting into both the time and salary window we have with the Js.

Finally we can hope that we dont need this exercise......but we probably will at some point soon.