Did Celtics Grant Williams Make the Right Decision to Bet on Himself?

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Katie Dugan via Creative Commons License

Grant Williams playing in the NCAA for the University of Tennessee

Zach LeBlanc, Writer

For me, it was a disappointment, but you know how much you’ve worked. You let your work show, and who knows? You might be able to get a better deal than you were in the contract negotiations in the first place, so for me that’s the confidence I have walking into it”

— Grant Williams, Celtics Power Forward

Entering his fourth season, Williams was eligible for a contract extension with the Boston Celtics. However, no deal was met. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Williams would be set to hit restricted free agency. This begs the question, did both the Celtics and Williams make the right move?

At least on Williams’ side of the contract talks, his move to bet on himself has played out amazingly for him so far. Across the board, he’s averaging a career-high in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per game. Additionally, he is shooting over 50% from three, which is ranked as the 4th best 3-point percentage so far this season.

In his rookie year, Williams’ only true value was on the defensive end. Despite being only 6’6” in height, his strong and wide frame allowed him to guard much taller players which helped him flourish defensively in Brad Stevens’ switch-heavy defensive system. Other aspects of his game were lacking, however – mostly on the offensive side – leaving Williams to average only 15.1 minutes over the course of his first NBA season.

Following Grant Williams’ rookie year, Stevenson hared how Grant Williams needed to expand his role with the Celtics in his sophomore season. “We need him to make shots when he’s spacing behind the 3, we need him to be a ball mover, be a facilitator, and be able to guard as many positions as possible.” Although Williams showed flashes of this in his second season, it wasn’t until year 3 of his career that Williams took his game to a new level.

In the 2021-2022 season, not only did he improve his shooting percentage to 41.1%, but he also became a much better decision-maker. His shooting ability forced defenders to guard Williams on the perimeter, often forcing quick closeouts to try and contest his shot. This gave Williams opportunities to drive inside which he complimented by adding a floater to his game and constantly looking to make the extra pass.

Williams’s most notable game of last season and his career was game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. Williams put his full game on display and showed NBA fans and other teams his true potential. In a do-or-die game 7 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, Williams knocked down 7 three-pointers for the Celtics and finished the night tallying in 27 total points which was good for a game-high. Celtics Star Jayson Tatum even gave Williams all the credit for his game 7 heroics saying “Grant won us a playoff game tonight”

Now in the 2022-2023 season, Williams has become an essential piece to this Celtics roster that is looking to get back to the NBA finals. As stated before, Williams is averaging career-high numbers and has improved his all-around game.

Williams, who will hit free agency next summer, will most likely draw in a large market. Many teams could use a player with the quality of the power forward. He may not be the flashiest player on the court, but he does an amazing job playing his role, something every championship team desires out of their players.

The expectation for the Williams market could land anywhere from $13-$18 million per year. Despite these numbers being high, Boston not only has the ability to match any offer Grant Williams receives, but also has Williams’ Bird rights, allowing Boston to exceed the salary cap if they desire in order to retain Williams.

The short-term answer is Grant Williams undoubtedly made the right decision to bet on himself. The constant growth of his skill as a basketball player proves he still has much more untapped potential. Not only could Williams win a ring with the Celtics in June, but he could also be in store for a huge payday in July.