What Celtics' Robert Williams learned from Al Horford and Aron Baynes as rookie

Gabby Guerard
July 15, 2019 - 3:46 pm

Trading Aron Baynes to the Suns and losing Al Horford to the 76ers in free agency left the Celtics with a gap in their frontcourt. Among those who plan to help fill the void in 2019-20 is Robert Williams, who had the benefit of working with both big men last season.

Williams, the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, told The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach the veterans helped him sharpen his skills as a rookie. Although their time together was cut short after only one year, watching Horford and Baynes gave Williams an idea of what he needs to do.

“I learned kind of how to make my moves effective,” Williams said. “Like, Al isn’t the fastest person, but one thing that always amazed me about him was any time he got the ball, even if you knew what he was doing, it’s effective as hell. I kind of took to that. He taught me how to really put an emphasis on my moves.

“And watching Baynes showed me the importance of just going straight up on defense instead of swiping down. Honestly, I don’t even always have to block it. Making them alter it is a great solution too.”

Last season, Williams competed in 32 games for the Celtics, averaging 2.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game. He battled a number of injuries and was only able to compete in one game last Summer League. However, he shined this summer, averaging 9.8 rebounds, nine points and two assists in 19.5 minutes per game — all without suffering an injury.

“This is the most he’s played all season,” Celtics Summer League coach Scott Morrison said. “He hung in there a couple of times where he was banged up and he fought through it and I thought he showed well for himself in terms of his toughness and durability.

“Making sure he can play every day was the first step. Step two was he showed some passing, some rebounding ability that’s going to be key for our team this year.”