The Boston Celtics have the best record in the league and Robert Williams hasn’t even played yet this season. That said, there’s growing speculation that Williams is going to return by Christmas, when the Celtics play the Bucks. However, I believe that Williams will only return when he’s ready, despite recent reports from Woj and Shams or even Boston media that say otherwise.
Let’s “open up the files” on when Rob Williams will return to the court for the Celtics.
The Celtics rushed Williams back from surgery last season after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure in March to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee in order for him to be available to play in the NBA Finals.
In the aftermath of being rushed back to the court too soon, Williams needed an additional surgery in September to “clean up loose bodies and address swelling” in his left knee, the second surgery on the same knee in less than six months.
Then in October, Williams received a PRP injection into the left knee to help accelerate the healing process and recovery. He has since been doing his own treatments with the team and progressing in the right direction at his own speed.
It’s fair to say the Celtics have become accustomed to being without Williams throughout his career in Boston. However, after getting a taste of the Finals, Williams is using his time wisely in returning to the court as he intends to not miss additional time once he does make his initial return.
Over the course of the last few weeks, we started seeing Williams ramping up his workouts along with being included in team practices again. From all the reports, Williams looks great, however there’s a big difference when it comes to being game-ready, and the only way to condition for that is to actually play in some games.
There’s going to come a time when the Celtics and Rob agreeingly take the training wheels off and he gets into a game. It’s been a long time since Rob has played real ball, he’s going to need to allow his body to readjust back into playing shape, as Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla recently expressed.
“He’s progressing really well. Pretty close to returning along with the timeline, it’s just a matter of getting him back conditioning-wise and making sure he’s ready to go.”
So how will Mazzulla work Williams back into the lineup? It would make the most sense to have him come off the bench in a gradual way as he reinserts himself back to the team. It will allow Williams to catch up to the speed of the game with one of the best bench units in the league, led by Malcolm Brogdon.
It’s worth mentioning that Williams’ role is going to be different this season considering the team is running a different system than it was last year with him involved in a career season for the athletic big man. He’s going to be used as a ball-mover, which he does at an expert level. Not to mention Williams is arguably one of the best dribble handoff, pick and rollers, and passers on the Celtics.
In all, the Celtics don’t need to rush Williams back and he can be frugal in the way he returns. The goal is for Rob to be healthy enough to withstand a playoff run at the end of the season, with keeping their eyes on the prize of making it back to the Finals.
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