It was a good problem to have, had Tristan Thompson’s contract not hard-capped the Boston Celtics, but no one anticipated the ascension of Robert Williams.
The third-year center made a jump in his game this season, providing a challenge for coach Brad Stevens assembling lineups and dividing up playing time between Williams, Thompson and Daniel Theis.
But as of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, Theis became a member of the Chicago Bulls. And with Thompson in the league’s COVID-19 protocols for the time being, the time is now for the Time Lord.
Head coach Brad Stevens, in his first media availability since the deadline, commented Friday about how much the team will miss Theis and what it means for Williams:
Well I think it puts a lot on (Williams). You know I think that he’s made a lot of strides, he does a lot of good things, and he can fill up a stat sheet. I think that there’s things that he will continue to improve upon and his best days are still far ahead. As much as the glimpses show, those glimpses have become a lot more consistent and his effort has been terrific. He’s a competitive guy. So he’ll get, obviously, a lot of opportunity here. He’s always been more comfortable coming off the bench, so he will have to adjust that here — at least in this near term — and then once we have everybody back and Tristan is back and everything else, then we’ll figure that out later. Rob is a critical part of our team now and a critical part of our team for the future. And so that’s an opportunity for him. I think obviously losing Daniel is really tough. I think Daniel’s been one of our best defenders the last couple of years on a team that has really struggled to defend. We’re going to have to have other people step up, you know. It’s time. It’s time for everybody to be their best on that end. And I think that is the number one thing for this team when you lose a communicator like that, a guy that can direct your defense from the backline, and a guy that is going to play hard on each and every possession. That’s going to be something that we’re gonna have to make up for. That is not insignificant. Yesterday was a tough day in losing those three guys?we lost three good guys and guys that people really like.
Williams got the start for Boston in the Celtics’ Friday evening game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
We’ll see what he makes of that, and the other opportunities to come.