The Boston Celtics season didn’t end the way they wanted, but it gave the fans and players a whole lot of hope.
For now, the struggles of Jayson Tatum in the 2022 NBA Finals are still fresh. Jaylen Brown’s dribbling issues linger in the minds of Celtics fans. Lost is the stretch they put together to get there, overcoming an ugly start to become the NBA’s hottest team for a two-month stretch.
Take a deep breath Celtics fans. Tatum is still Boston’s best player, although he needs work. He and Brown are still one of the league’s top duos. While Tatum is considered the Celtics’ top guy, could center Robert Williams be their most valuable one?
The Boston Celtics are a different team with Robert Williams
Just to be clear, Williams isn’t Boston’s top player. But an argument can be made that he’s the most valuable.
Before Williams tore his meniscus toward the end of the season, he was right in the mix for Defensive Player of the Year honors. He played 61 games in the regular season and proved to be a difference-maker, particularly on the defensive end.
At 6-foot-8, Williams played like a seven-footer. The lanky, super-athletic center out of Texas A&M has a motor that won’t quit. His injury took that away from him as he limped his way through the postseason. Despite those limitations, he still provided Boston with a presence in the middle, altering shots and forcing teams to shy away from driving to the basket.
He nearly averaged a double-double this season. He put up career-highs in points (10.0) and rebounds (9.6) and shot 73.6% from the floor. Offensively, Williams is a lob threat, capable of outjumping most centers and completing an alley-oop. He’s also a terrific free-throw shooter for a big man, making better than 83% of his foul shots during the postseason.
Could Williams be the Celtics’ MVP?
Tatum gets way too much credit for the success of the Celtics this season. As we’re seeing now, he’s also getting much of the blame for their struggles against the Warriors in the NBA Finals. That’s what happens when you’re the star of a successful team.
Tatum led the team in scoring, was named All-NBA First Team, and made his third straight All-Star appearance. That should qualify the 24-year-old as the team’s best player, but does that make him the most valuable? Does he have the most impact?
To me, Williams is the most valuable. He’s, by far, the most consistent player on the team. You always know what you’re going to get with Williams on the court. The problem has just been getting him on the court.
When he’s out there, he changes everything. Teams have to adjust their game. There’s no other player on the Celtics who has that impact. He won’t put up 35 points like Tatum, but he won’t set turnover records like him, either. He’ll protect the rim, making opponents think twice about their offensive game. Tatum, Brown, and Marcus Smart don’t do that.
During the postseason, we saw what Williams can do. And all that he did was done hobbling on one leg.
Like Tatum, Williams is 24. The loss to the Warriors stung initially, but it’s only going to make this young core better and hungrier. A healthy Williams next season might just get Boston over the hump.