Why ESPN Believes Robert Williams Might Thrive If Celtics Trade Him


Perhaps Robert Williams might benefit from a change of scenery?

ESPN’s Mike Schmitz included the Boston Celtics center on his list of five young NBA trade targets who might thrive on another team Tuesday. Although Williams’ name hasn’t emerged in trade rumors, Schmitz explained why he believes the 22-year-old big man could use a fresh start prior to or on the Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline.

“Injuries, Boston’s window for contending and his own sometimes-shaky feel for the game have kept Williams from really emerging with the Celtics,” Schmitz wrote.

“… Even with Williams dinged up and the Celtics having several bigs ahead of him on the depth chart, it is hard to imagine Boston simply giving up on the Time Lord. But Williams is the type of undervalued, springy center I’d prioritize in a deal with the Celtics, as he holds clear starter potential in the right situation.

“There’s no question that Williams needs to play with more consistent energy and discipline, but his catch radius and defensive range (1.9 steals and 4.3 blocks per 40 minutes in 53 career games) are high level. And the fact that he has shown glimpses of passing instincts in the past gives me hope that he could eventually be more than just a bench energizer.”

Williams is averaging 3.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game this season. He has missed Boston’s last 21 games due to a hip injury, which has cost him a valuable chance to accelerate his development in his second NBA season and perhaps earn a larger role in the Celtics’ rotation.

His inclusion on Schmitz’s list suggests he has garnered attention outside of Boston due to the talent he flashed during his limited body of work in the NBA. However, that doesn’t mean the Celtics will be willing to trade Williams in the coming weeks. After all, if he’s among the top-five “buy-low or high-upside” players in the NBA, it might be in Boston’s best interest to retain him until he’s ready to build another case for extended minutes.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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