Why Celtics’ Grant Williams Among NBA Rookies ‘Most Likely To Outperform’

Perhaps the NBA community’s radar should have done a better job picking up on Grant Williams.

ESPN’s Mike Schmitz on Friday included the Boston Celtics forward on his list of “Six NBA rookies most likely to outperform this season.” The Celtics selected Williams with the No. 22 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, but Schmitz believes his physical and mental toughness and his passing ability will make him stand out from most of his rookie peers.

“The No. 206 recruit in his high school class, 20-year-old Grant Williams is a consistent overachiever,” Schmitz wrote. “I’d expect more of the same as he joins a Celtics team that values the toughness, intangibles and maturity he consistently brings to the floor. … He’s a winner through and through, perfectly suited for Boston’s culture.”

Williams nominally is a forward, but Schmitz believes he has the skill set to prompt Celtics head coach Brad Stevens to use him at center.

“… Williams is tough and instinctive enough to slide up to the five in a pinch. Whether playing small ball or in a more traditional lineup, the Celtics’ front line isn’t exactly filled with world-beaters either in Enes Kanter, Daniel Theis, Robert Williams and Vincent Poirier — among whom Grant Williams is already the best passer, with the potential to become the best floor spacer (36.8 percent from 3 in summer league).”

Williams was the SEC Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019 and was a First Team All-American selection in 2018-19. While his NBA draft position might not reflect that his pedigree, Schmitz believes the previous stage of his career teaches one fundamental lesson.

“For all of his perceived shortcomings, his illustrious Tennessee career taught us to never bet against Grant Williams.”

Duly noted.

Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images