Grant Williams and PJ Tucker are fighting for glue man supremacy

When Grant Williams entered the league in 2019, pundits thought he was a smart, physical, versatile player with a unique set of skills.

But there are two main problems: his lack of size and his lack of range. When the 6-foot-5 forward started his career with a 0-for-25 3-pointer from the field, it’s fair to question whether he’ll last long in the NBA.

Fast forward three years, and Williams is now a sharpshooter and elite defender on one of the best teams in the NBA. Last round, he held Giannis Antetokounmpo better than almost anyone all season. This series, aside from the challenge of trying to slow Jimmy Butler down, has one more item on his to-do list: beyond his basketball mirror, PJ Tucker — who also challenges the possibility of forwards in the linebacker’s body .

Williams and Tucker would never admit they were in an unspoken personal war, but they didn’t need to. At any level of basketball, when a player sees someone play like them, act like them, and think they’re better than them on the other side, they want to take a one-on-one fight against that person. This is how it works. Heck, that’s how life works.

At 6-foot-5, Tucker is also a critically injured 6-foot-5 who can also guard players of all shapes and sizes, shoots well from 3-point range, and plays with his relentless running and immortal energy Make everyone around him better. Williams is basically Tucker 2.0. While there are subtle differences in their games — like Williams’ higher shot count and Tucker’s signature teardrop, which Williams should consider adding to his repertoire — they are currently playing in the two teams. The exact same roles are played on the teams vying for a place in the Finals.

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes says Williams Always reminded him of Tucker and he told him to watch clips of guys like Tucker and Jack Crowder because that was the role he needed in the NBA. A few years later, Williams followed the blueprint perfectly — so much it was almost unbelievable.

In the regular season, Williams averaged 7.8 points while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 41.1 percent from 3-point range. Tucker contributed 7.6 points per night while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from 3-point range. But wait, there’s more. During the playoffs, both players played in 14 games and scored 3.4 goals per night. They tend to mirror each other naturally and subconsciously in every game.

Despite their current success, it’s important to note that neither player understood it all early in their careers. Williams is averaging 3.4 points per game as a rookie on 25 percent of his 3-pointers, while Tucker is averaging just 1.8 points per game without hitting a 3-pointer. Both stayed patient, adapted and worked hard, and learned how to contribute to winning.

Both are now good role players for big nights (see: Williams, Game 7 vs. Milwaukee), but they don’t necessarily need the ball to be effective. But when they do have it, they’re not afraid to let it fly (that’s true for that section in Williams’ rookie scouting report). They all have their place, know when to shoot and never hesitate. For example, Williams shot 50 percent from the left corner, while Tucker shot 47.7 percent from the same area.

Beyond their individual feats, Williams and Tucker are often barometers of their teams’ overall performance. Williams has won and lost 50.2 percent and 42.2 percent of the Celtics this season, while Tucker has won and lost 50.4 and 45.1 percent, respectively.

In the series, Williams had a great Game 2 — the Celtics’ lone victory — scoring 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting and finishing with a staggering 37 points. In other games he shot 36.3 percent from the field. Tucker was solid in the Game 1 victory, blowing out 17 points in the Game 3 victory. In Game 2, he went 2-for-6 from the field and was minus-10.

The similarities extend to defense as well. Tucker did to Tatum in this series what Williams did to Antetokounmpo last series. Although he was noticeably shorter, he got in his way and annoyed him and made him work for everything.

Neither player is responsible for defending the point guard or center. Both have helped grow the sport in recent years and proved that “tweens” are also basketball players. Charles Barkley started the trend, Boris Diaw and Draymond Green reignited it, and now Tucker and Williams have played their part. They’re doing it for every DeJuan Blair, Semi Ojele and Alando Tucker who’ve been told they’re too slow, too short or too limited on offense to stick around.

Both have a special and unique quality that provokes opponents while inspiring teammates to be at their best. Each of them has a chance to make their mark on this series, and you better believe they’ll keep scoring every move in one-on-one battles.

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