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How Can Celtics Prospect Robert Williams Refine His Game With Maine Red Claws?

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Should he spend extended time with the Maine Red Claws, what can Celtics’ prospect Robert Williams work on to improve his game?

NBA: Summer League-Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the Boston Celtics entered into a hybrid relationship with the Maine Red Claws back in 2012, the minor league club has been one of the best G League teams for preparing its big league affiliate’s prospects for the next level. Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier were both able to utilize time with the Red Claws to grow their games and eventually become important parts of the Celtics rotation.

As the 2018-19 season nears, it looks like the Celtics are going to utilize the Red Claws once again to develop another high upside prospect In a recent profile on former Texas A&M center Robert Williams, NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely noted that the 2018 1st round pick is likely to spend a good amount of time this year with Maine. Blakely’s reasoning dealt with the Celtics’ solid depth and fondness for playing position-less basketball.

Although that may be disappointing for a player that was once listed as a potential lottery pick, Williams will still have an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of guys like Rozier and Smart, to grow his game with the Red Claws. He’ll play significant minutes on a night-by-night basis.

With that extended playing time, WIlliams could work on becoming a more well-rounded offensive player. Last year, most of his offensive production came when he was hanging near the rim or running in transition. His athleticism and strong 241 pound frame made him a great target for alley-oops. That approach worked out at Texas A&M, as he shot 84% from around the rim during his sophomore year, according to The Stepien.

Although that method was successful in college, Williams will need to utilize his time with the Red Claws to become a more well-rounded offensive threat if he wants to become part of the Celtics’ rotation. One area that he’ll need to improve on is as a mid-range shooter as the 6’10 center has rarely shown an ability to hit shots outside the paint. That fact was evident last year as he shot 36% on mid-range attempts from 13 feet to the NCAA 3-point line.

An improved jumper would do wonders Williams as it would really open his offensive game. For one, he’d a more difficult player to guard in pick-and-roll/pop situations as defenders would have to figure out whether they want to stay up and defend his shots or sag and try to stop an on-ball drive. If they decide to stick with Williams, he could decide to use his solid court vision to pass it to an off-ball cutter.

With a more refined offensive arsenal, Williams would be a pretty well-rounded player as he’s already an established force on defense. With Texas A&M, he stood as an elite rim protector as he averaged 2.5 blocks per game during his two years in college. Those great numbers contributed to him being named as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year for both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.