This season, Grant Williams was the Celtics’ sixth man, the most-used replacement for Ime Udoka. With his points, his outside shot and his contribution in defense, he was essential in the course of Boston, finalist against Golden State.
For his third season, he performed his best exercise and almost touched the goal he had set for himself during his first days in Boston, after his Draft. That’s what he told then-GM Danny Ainge.
“I knew that my goal had always been not to be MVP or anything, but it was this 18th banner of champion for the franchise”the interior tells The Athletic. “It’s something that we understood, him and me, I think. It was my way of making franchise history. »
“You have to prove to the coach that you deserve to be on the court, to your teammates too”
Except that after those words from 2019, Grant Williams’ trajectory hasn’t been linear. Rookie, in the “bubble”, he had shown great things in the playoffs, against Toronto and Miami, on short sequences. But he did not really confirm in stride, arriving out of form in preseason and lacking in intensity.
“I remember challenging him, asking him if he understood that he had to do this every day”explains Danny Ainge. “You have to prove it on a daily basis. We can’t relax and think it’s over. You have to work, work and work again. You have to prove to the coach that you deserve to be on the court, to your teammates too, so that they have confidence in you when you have the ball in your hands. It was from this moment that I understood that he had raised his level of involvement, of work for his second year. »
Even after his second year and a more assertive place on the bench, nothing was certain yet. Danny Ainge, before his departure from the franchise, had slipped to him that he was not “not good enough yet”. The arrival of Ime Udoka was therefore perfect to push him to work even harder, in order to keep his place in the rotation.
“I remember those words and coming to training camp thinking that no matter the situation, I was going to take this seriously, with very strong intentions. Not only physically, but also in the game, and even in preseason. »
“Previously, I was the one who was targeted, who was attacked. Now they are trying to avoid me”
Last season was therefore his most successful, with many personal records: 77 games played, 24 minutes per game, 7.8 points and 3.6 rebounds on average, 41% success rate behind the arc. In addition, despite a still somewhat chubby silhouette, Grant Williams has gained muscle and solidity in defense.
Coming off the bench, in the playoffs, he has become very valuable.
“Being able to defend Joel Embiid and Trae Young in two matches is pretty cool”he comments. “Even at the start of the season, when my place in the rotation was uncertain, I did not lose the confidence of the coach. The decisive moment is when after a bad game, the next day, you are expected to bounce back. I became the player that nobody wants to meet in defense. Previously, I was the one who was targeted, who was attacked. Now they’re trying to avoid me. »
Grant Williams, who would already like to extend to Boston, has now fully integrated the advice given by Danny Ainge at the start of his career. Being intense, serious and focused is the key to his success and that of the top level. “What I learned from the Finals was discipline,” he assures.
Not to mention the motivation he evoked on his first day in Boston. “When you see me at 3-pts, playing with the public, I look at the banners because that remains my main objective. This is my first engine. »