Boston Celtics youngsters Guerschon Yabusele and Robert Williams III put their talents on display in an easy win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
When media talk of the Boston Celtics’ youth, they are generally referring to two players, wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. In Friday night’s 128-95 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, fans were reminded of some of youth in the Celtics frontcourt.
Yabusele reminded Celtics fans why he was on the roster, showcasing his versatility and nimble feet. He contributed 5 points and 4 rebounds off the bench.
In the second quarter, Yabusele caught a kick out from Marcus Smart at the top of the key. Yabusele knocked down the straight away three, showing off his smooth shooting stroke.
In the fourth quarter, Yabusele set a ball screen and then popped to the three point line. Yabusele attacked the closing Channing Frye, blowing by him for an easy driving layup.
Not many men with Yabusele’s build have the ability to knock down jumpers and put the ball on the floor. While his career 30% three point shooting percentage is less than desirable (still a small sample size), Yabusele appears to have the tools to make the defense respect his jump shot and to play off closeouts, which is a valuable skill for bigs in the Celtics offense.
Celtics rookie Robert Williams III also saw time in the Celtics blow out win against the Cavs. Williams was a projected lottery pick in many mock drafts due to his potential as a dangerous lob-catching pick and roll big man and a shot-blocking rim protector. He demonstrated both of these skills in his 8 minutes on the floor Friday night.
On two separate occasion in the fourth quarter, Williams switched on to a guard after a ball screen leading to a block at the rim. On both occasions, Williams stayed with Cavs guard Alec Burks on drives to the rim and used to his elite quick-twitch jumping ability to reject Burks’ layup attempts. One of the blocks was a volleyball spike into the second row that would have made Phil Dalhausser proud.
Mid way through the fourth quarter, Williams set a high ball screen for Wannamaker. He then rolled hard to the rim, catching and finishing an alley-oop.
Williams ability to catch lobs at the rim could make him a useful cog in the Celtics offense later on in his career. Dangerous roll men, like Clint Capela and Deandre Jordan, create so much space for ball handlers and weak side shooters. The defense has to respect the roll, which means they must either rotate significantly to take away the air space, which opens up weak side shooters, or switch ball screens. This can allow ball handlers to exploit slow-footed defender. With Williams’s athleticism, he possesses the potential to have that kind of impact as a roll man.
It is easy to become enamored with the youth at the wing spot for the Celtics. However, if the Celtics want to be a consistent title contender they will need to continue to have depth in the frontcourt. In the Celtics blow out win against the Cavs, Guerschon Yabusele and Robert WIlliams showed why they might be able to provide rotational depth for the Celtics frontcourt in the coming years.
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