In his first full season as the Boston Celtics starting center, Robert Williams III is taking over. The fourth-year pro is already one of the best defensive players in the league. After starting the season slowly, he’s been the key behind a surprising Boston turnaround. The 24-year old is also under contract until the 2025-26 season and has cemented himself as a key piece of Boston’s impressive young core.
Williams has been the dominant force down low the Celtics have been lacking for years. The Time Lord should finish on a high note in the DPOY race, and is in the midst of an excellent breakout season.
The Time Lord: The Celtics Center Making a Sneaky DPOY Push
A Matchup Nightmare
To start, Williams is a complete player on offense AND defense. The Texas A&M product is a persistent lob threat and an excellent finisher at the rim. He’s averaging 10 points for the first time in his career and averaging a career-high 9.8 rebounds per game. Williams is shooting 72.6 percent from the field, which would be first in the league if he attempted more shots. He’s been deadly efficient his entire career, and that hasn’t changed.
Williams is one of the few centers in the league who can make the extra pass-averaging 2 assists per game. Not only that, but he also has set plenty of screens this season and has wreaked havoc in the pick-and-roll. His well-known ability to rebound is among the best-15th in the entire league in that category. Plus his free throw percentage is better, shooting a career-high 72 percent from the free-throw line. There’s just no way to stop him at the rim. Fans call him the Time Lord for his ability to float above the rim, so that nickname is no coincidence.
The Time Lord is even currently in a tie for the highest offensive rating in the league, clocking in at a stunning 144. For reference, the third-highest is Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert at 137, which is impressive, but not close. Williams is also leading the league in lobs received, so it’s not a case of a small sample size.
A Locked Up Paint
As capable as he is on offense, The Time Lord is a defensive monster. Williams is currently tied for second in defensive rating in the entire league at 102. That number only trails Brooklyn Nets center Andre Drummond, who has a mark of 100 flat. He’s tied for the league lead in blocks at 2.2 per game, as his rim protection is elite. Also, he has nearly a steal per game, which just shows how versatile he is.
Just remember Williams is only 6’8. He’s achieving feats like that against 7 footers, and some of the tallest players in the league. That makes his high motor and hustle plays look even better, and he’s setting the tone for a young Celtics team. Sure, his size puts him at a disadvantage against taller players, it allows him to also clamp up opposing guards. Thus, it means the Celtics don’t have a real weakness or scheme that could be their downfall.
Towards the end of games, Williams is locked in and is locking up bigs who normally dominate such as Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. Earlier this year Williams had a great game-sealing block on Nuggets center Zeke Nnaji in Boston’s come-from-behind win over Denver. In that particular game, Williams had a double-double with 15 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks. He isn’t backing down with the game on the line, and here’s the block for those who haven’t seen it.
The Time Lord is flourishing in his first season as the Celtics starting center, and it’s great to see. One of his best moments this season was when he logged a triple-double, once again showcasing his versatility. In 34 minutes of action, Williams scored 10 points on perfect 5-5 of shooting against the now-league leading Phoenix Suns. He added 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, which is the fifth-most amount of assists by a center in a single game this season. Moreover, he swatted five shots for five blocks, making him just five blocks short of a quadruple-double.
Will Robert Williams III Win?
In all likelihood, Robert Williams III will not win the award. This year’s historically deep field, similar to this year’s MVP race, could come down to the final day of the season. The Boston Celtics are climbing in the Eastern Conference, but it may not be enough to overshadow their early-season slump. Don’t get it mistaken though-even if he doesn’t win, there is a case to be made for him to win.
As mentioned earlier, the beauty of the Time Lord’s game lies in his versatility. He can guard positions 1 through 5 on the court, locks down the big men of opposing teams, and shuts out guards from scoring at the rim. Without him, the Celtics defense suffers, and Boston’s defense has been much better with him on the court. It would be a mistake to let his excellent season go to waste, and it’s not too late to tune in to some Celtics games to fully appreciate his play.
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