The Boston Celtics had only one pick Thursday night in the 2018 NBA Draft.
They made the most of it, according to the experts.
The Celtics selected Texas A&M big man Robert Williams with the 27th overall pick, which some analysts considered a steal late in the first round. Williams comes with red flags, namely questions about his work ethic and past off-court issues, but there’s no denying the 20-year-old’s upside, particularly on the defensive end.
NESN.com’s Logan Mullen handed out grades to each of the 30 NBA teams after the draft and gave the Celtics a B+. That obviously is a solid mark, and he’s not alone in being impressed by Boston’s draft-night handling, as others also praised Danny Ainge and Co. for what they did (and didn’t do).
Here are some Celtics draft grades we’ve compiled from various sources, along with each analyst’s explanation of why they like Boston taking Williams at No. 27:
Reid Forgrave, CBS Sports: A+
The Celtics get the defensive-minded, elite-rebounding big man they needed. He’s a great athlete who can defend in a lot of styles. Could he be the American Clint Capela? The “steal of the draft” label could be his.
Sean Deveney, Sporting News: A
The Celtics attempted to trade up into the top five in hopes of landing a young big man to develop, and instead, young developable big man Robert Williams fell to Boston at No. 27. This is a guy who was projected to go from pick Nos. 11-15.
It’s the kind of lucky draft-day break the Celtics would get when Red Auerbach was running the team, which might explain why, when Danny Ainge emerged from the team’s war room, he was two inches shorter, lost three inches off his hairline and sounded like Peter Falk when he spoke.
Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer: A
It will be interesting to see whether off-court or medical concerns contributed to Williams’s slide, because there’s no reason for a player this talented to be available near the end of the first round. Williams is as physically gifted as any of the big men who went in the top 10. He’s an über-athletic 6-foot-9 big who could stay in front of even the fastest point guards. He’s not particularly skilled on offense, but he shouldn’t have to do much beyond set screens and catch lobs in Boston.
Steve Alexander, Rotoworld: A
They only got one player, but it was C Robert Williams (27) and many people, including me, are calling him the potential steal of the draft. And with Greg Monroe and Aron Baynes unrestricted free agents, the Celtics met a need without screwing up an already great team. Bravo.
Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated: B+
This is great value for the Celtics, who might be getting a starting-caliber talent and do a good job developing players. Many teams were scared off by Williams due to concerns about his maturity and the interview process—there was a sense he’d fall, but perhaps not this far. Someone else’s risky investment is now a terrific flier for Boston here, and the Celtics will give him a strong environment in which to succeed.
Michael Singer, USA TODAY: B
Williams is a tantalizing prospect with his size and athleticism, but the reason he nearly fell out of the first round is because there are questions about his work ethic. If he brings the same effort each night, he could be a nightmare on pick-and-roll lobs from Kyrie Irving. A lottery-level talent, he’s worth a shot at this point.
Additionally, ESPN.com, while not providing a grade, listed the Celtics as one of the six teams/picks that stood out, with Mike Schmitz writing the following:
Along with Walker, Williams has the potential to be the steal of the draft at No. 27 — the same draft slot of a similar lob-catching, shot-blocking center in Clint Capela. While there are clear questions about Williams’ motor, the rangy big man is without a doubt a top-10 caliber talent when fully engaged.
He’s much more suited for the open NBA game than the role he played as a power forward with clogged paint at Texas A&M. Boston is the exact environment that Williams needs to rev up his focus and commitment to his craft. The Celtics also could really use a big in Williams’ mold, as he’ll be a tremendous lob threat for Kyrie Irving and the rest of Boston’s offensive weapons.
So, yeah. It sounds like the Celtics nailed it.
Thumbnail photo via C. Morgan Engel/USA TODAY Sports Images