BOSTON — At the very least, Robert Williams is self aware.
The Celtics’ lone draft pick knows people question his work ethic and that his “motor” has been a red flag on his scouting report since his freshman year at Texas A&M.
So, Williams is taking matters into his own hands: The 20-year-old has been in the gym every day since Boston selected him No. 27 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft last Thursday and got in a 6:30 a.m. workout Friday morning before his introductory press conference, according to head coach Brad Stevens.
“Boston is a place that loves hard workers,” Williams said Friday at the Auerbach Center in Boston. ” … Hard work, dedication and doing things the right way. I feel like those are the keys.”
Williams is saying the right things, but those questions aren’t necessarily out of line. Despite being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman, the Shreveport, La., native opted to return to Texas A&M for his sophomore season, in part because his family felt he wasn’t ready for the NBA.
“My mom was a big part of it,” Williams said. “She felt like I needed to mature more, even if I didn’t feel like that.”
Williams then was suspended for the first two games of the 2017-18 season for violating school policy and later saw his name slip on NBA draft boards after being touted by some as a lottery pick.
The 6-foot-10 big man insists Boston is a great fit for him, though. He’s already sought guidance from veteran forward Al Horford, who gave him some simple advice: “work hard.”
“People question my motor a lot, but I work hard,” Williams said. “I know I can work hard. … So, just being in this organization and knowing what it takes to be in this league definitely helped me out.”
It was at that moment when Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, whose old No. 44 Williams will wear next season, couldn’t resist himself.
“It’s hard to have a low motor and be Defensive Player of the Year for two years in a row in a tough conference,” Ainge interjected.
Ainge and the C’s clearly believed in Williams’ talent — and he has a lot of it — enough to take a late-round flier on him. Now, it’s up to the rookie to prove Boston right.
Thumbnail photo via Darren Hartwell/NESN.com