Celtics' Robert Williams Talks Al Horford's Departure, 2019-20 Expectations

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2019

Boston Celtics' Robert Williams passes against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

While the Boston Celtics as a whole fell short of their goals in 2018-19, Robert Williams believes his rookie season prepared him well for what's to come in the year ahead.

"I feel like it was just a great teaching step, a great learning step to know what you can improve on and know what's to be done," the center said, per MassLive.com's Tom Westerholm. "What standards you're held at, and what's below standard. I feel like last season, obviously you can't dwell on the past, but it helped me grow a lot."

Williams also said Al Horford talked to him prior to signing with the Philadelphia 76ers in the offseason. The five-time All-Star told him "he would blossom in the NBA." Williams called the center a "great leader" in the year they spent together.

The 21-year-old immediately got his Celtics tenure off on the wrong foot when he overslept and missed his introductory conference call after the 2018 draft. The first-round pick was also absent for a Summer League practice when he missed a flight.

The whole saga earned Williams his "Time Lord" nickname.

He said he worked on his off-court habits this offseason, including improving his diet and sleep habits.

Williams made 32 appearances in 2018-19, averaging 2.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 8.8 minutes per game. The Celtics will need more from him in his second season.

In addition to Horford signing with the Sixers, Boston traded Aron Baynes to the Phoenix Suns, so the team is without two of its best interior defenders from last year. Tacko Fall, who stands 7'6", is on the roster, but it's hard to picture him getting on the court in crucial moments.

As a result, the 6'10" Williams might be the team's best rim protector. He had 155 blocks in 61 games at Texas A&M.

Williams' development figures to be one of the Celtics' priorities as they look ahead toward a possible playoff matchup against the Sixers or Milwaukee Bucks down the road. The team opens its preseason Sunday at home against the Charlotte Hornets. 

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