Grant Williams seems to have found his stride over the past few games with the Celtics.
The 22-year-old entered Saturday’s clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder having averaged 9.8 points over the last five games for Boston, having logged double-digit scoring in three of those five outings. And after a quiet night against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, when he scored just five points (though it was on 2-for-4 shooting from the field), Williams proved Saturday that his flame hadn’t gone out just yet.
Williams dropped 14 points on the Thunder on 5-for-9 shooting from the field and an impressive 4-for-6 from deep. He also logged eight boards, two blocks, an assist and a steal.
The forward seemed to think that his recent success is just a product of having been in the league for so long now. He mentioned his teammates don’t offer him advice when he goes through slow stretches — like he has already this season — but rather give him space and just let him find himself again, which comes across as a sign of respect.
“Now the confidence is there where that shot just feels natural,” Williams said after the win. “Just gotta keep playing with that confidence, playing with that ability and open things up for the rest of those guys.”
After the win, head coach Ime Udoka gushed about the third-year player’s performance and perseverance.
“I think he’s been confident all year. Started off training camp very well. Early in the season had a few games where he went into a little bit of a slump there but he’s bounced back well, continues to work at it,” Udoka said. “More importantly, I think he knows where he’s gonna get his shots off of guys. They’re looking for him in the crowd that they draw and he’s ready to let it go. So we want quick decisions and he does that when he’s open shooting the ball, if he doesn’t have it, he moves it pretty quickly.
With a solid effort on defense and the way he’s shooting it on offense, we’re happy with where he’s at.”
Veteran Al Horford also noted Williams’ progress, though he wasn’t surprised — noting that he worked hard over the summer to be experience this sort of stability during the regular season.
“He just has to keep shooting it with confidence,” Horford said. “Last night and tonight he shot it really well.”
Entering Saturday, Williams was hitting career highs in all every major statistical category, highlighted by scoring 7.1 points while shooting at a 50.6% clip and hitting 40.4% of attempts from beyond the arc.
As if his showing on the court wasn’t enough, the reaction to Williams’ performance — both from player and coach — proves that Williams has crossed the threshold from young up-and-comer to mature and reliable role player in the NBA and especially on this Celtics team.