AP Photo/Steven Senne
The Boston Celtics might be getting a nice Christmas present in late December—the return of center Robert Williams, who has yet to play this season after undergoing surgery on his left knee in September.
“His agent Kevin Bradbury told me tonight he expects Robert Williams will be back by Christmas,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on NBA Countdown. “That gives him another month here. He’s progressing well on his rehab. This is a player who had two surgeries in the last calendar year. [The Celtics] certainly want to take their time.”
Williams has battled through knee issues this calendar year. A torn meniscus in his left knee last March and a subsequent surgery left him out for a month, while he had an arthroscopic procedure in September that was scheduled to sideline him 8-12 weeks ahead of this season.
Defensively, Williams is a game-changer. The 25-year-old center averaged 10 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and two assists per game for the Celtics last season, who gave up just 103.4 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court last season, per NBA.com, compared to 106.6 points per 100 possession while he sat.
His overall net rating of 10.0 was a wildly impressive mark, trailing only Jayson Tatum (12.1) among the team’s regular starters.
“People don’t understand how valuable and important Rob is to our team and our success,” Tatum told reporters over the weekend. “He doesn’t score a lot of points, but just his presence on both ends makes us that much better. It’s kind of damn-near impressive what we’re doing without Rob.”
The Celtics came into Wednesday with an NBA-best record of 13-4, picking up from last season’s run to the NBA Finals, where they lost in six games to the Golden State Warriors.
So they haven’t missed a beat without him, but he’ll only make them a tougher team to face.
“He’ll help our spacing on the offensive end, and then defensively we’re doing a great job of our individual defense and our shift activities, and he’ll fit right in as far as our rim protection,” head coach Joe Mazzulla told reporters. “So, both systems were built for our full team, so when we get that it’ll be a seamless transition.”
And all indications are that Williams’ return will happen in the next month.
“We’re happy with him as far as his progression and the work he’s put in toward coming back,” Mazzulla said. “He’s picking it up on the court a little bit… He looks good. He’s healthy and responding well to it. He’s in a good space as far as patience, and he’s doing the work he needs to do.”