The Boston Celtics’ season didn’t end the way they wanted, but it gave fans and players a lot of hope.
For now, Jayson Tatum’s struggles in the 2022 NBA Finals are still alive and well. Jaylen Brown’s dribbling problems linger in the minds of Celtics fans. What was lost was their piece of work to get there, overcoming an ugly start and becoming the hottest team in the NBA for two months.
Celtics fans took a deep breath. Tatum is still Boston’s best player, even though he needs work. He and Brown remain one of the top duos in the league. While Tatum is considered the Celtics’ number one, will center Robert Williams be their most valuable man?
The Boston Celtics are a different team than Robert Williams
To be clear, Williams is not Boston’s top player. But arguably he is the most valuable.
He was right in Defensive Player of the Year honors before Williams tore his meniscus at the end of the season. He played 61 games in the regular season and proved to be a different man, especially on the defensive end.
At 6-foot-8, Williams plays like a 7-footer. This lanky hypersports center at Texas A&M has an engine that never stops. His injury robbed him of that feeling as he stumbled through the playoffs. Despite these limitations, he still provides Boston with a mid lane presence, changing shots and forcing teams to avoid driving to the basket.
He has almost averaged a double-double this season. He set career highs in points (10.0) and rebounds (9.6) while shooting 73.6 percent from the field. Offensively, Williams is a lob threat, able to pass most centers and complete the alley-oop. He’s also an excellent free throw shooter for a big man, shooting over 83 percent from the free throw line in the playoffs.
Can Williams be the Celtics’ MVP?
Tatum has gotten too much credit for the Celtics’ success this season. As we’ve seen now, he’s also been heavily criticized for their fight against the Warriors in the NBA Finals. This happens when you are the star of a successful team.
Tatum led the team in scoring, making the All-NBA First Team and making his third straight All-Star team. That should make the 24-year-old the team’s best player, but does it make him the most valuable player? Is he the greatest influence?
For me, Williams is the most valuable. He is by far the most consistent player on the team. You always know what Williams is going to get on the court. The problem is just getting him to play.
When he was there, he changed everything. Teams have to adjust their game. No other player on the Celtics can make that kind of impact. He won’t score 35 points like Tatum, but he won’t set the turnover record like he does. He’ll protect the rim and make opponents think twice. Tatum, Brown and Marcus Smart don’t do that.
In the playoffs, we saw what Williams could do. And all he did was limping on one leg.
Like Tatum, Williams is only 24 years old. Losing to the Warriors was painful at first, but it only made this young core better and hungrier. A healthy Williams could get Boston through next season.
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