Celtics

Grant Williams discussed why he’s ‘at the top of the list’ of NBA role players

Williams also talked about which players he's modeled his game from.

Grant Williams
Grant Williams warming up before a game during the Eastern Conference finals. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Throughout the Celtics’ current playoff run, Grant Williams has become a vital piece of the puzzle in Boston’s bid for a championship.

Though he doesn’t lead the team in offensive categories, Williams has found a reliable balance between making contributions on both ends of the floor. When called upon to score — as he was in Game 7 against the Bucks in the previous series — Williams has delivered (leading Boston with 27 points). When he’s called upon to guard various opposing superstars, Williams has energetically done that too.

In other words, he fits the definition of a true role player. It’s a label that Williams discussed in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated’s Michael Pina.

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Asked how he describes his specific role with the Celtics, Williams pointed to some traits that Boston fans have become familiar with during the team’s playoff run.

“Just being a great teammate, being a guy that everyone can rely on while also holding guys accountable and being willing to be told things as well,” Williams told Pina. “On the court, really just defend anybody at any time and knock down open threes. That’s probably the most important thing, especially for our team, knocking down those shots.

“Last but not least,” Williams added, “bringing that competitive fire and bringing that energy so that people can always rely on you off the court but also on.”

Pina pointed out that Williams’s style — defensive versatility and a capacity to hit open shots — was “perfect for this era.” When the question of where Williams ranks among current NBA role players, the 23-year-old had a straightforward response.

“In all honesty I see myself at the top of the list,” said Williams. “I might not necessarily be the scorer that some guys are, like maybe the Tyler Herros and guys of that nature. But I feel like I provide things that they don’t provide. And, honestly, I just really, really feel confident at this point.”

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Drafted by the Celtics with the 22nd overall pick in 2019, Williams has seen a steady increase in minutes each season.

Through 16 playoff games, he’s hit 41 percent of his attempts from 3-point range along with being an 85.4 percent free throw shooter.

As for who he models his game off of, both past and present, Williams offered a few specific names.

“As a young kid I would’ve said Charles Barkley,” Williams noted. “But now that I’m more wise and knowledgeable, I’ve always been big on Boris Diaw, Draymond Green. Like, those are the guys that I, back in the day, really admired. Because those are the guys I find are most valuable to the team. There’s always gonna be 25–30 point scorers. There will be generational talents. But the guys that really make it that way, Robert Horry … the guys that every team wants.”

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