Former Vol Grant Williams arriving in NBA Playoffs -

Former Vol Grant Williams arriving in NBA Playoffs

He’s not your typical star. Grant Williams played three years for Tennessee basketball and developed under Rick Barnes as a three-star forward who was an undersized post player at 6’6″ 236 pounds. However, he turned that development into becoming a late first-round NBA Draft pick in 2019.

Now, after three years as a role player who consistently improved, Williams is starting to emerge in the NBA Playoffs for the Boston Celtics. His star power is beginning to show, and while it’s not the same as a one-and-done five-star who starts immediately, he is still arriving.

On Tuesday, Boston evened the series up with the Milwaukee Bucks. Williams was primarily assigned to handle Giannis Antetokounmpo. Against a two-time league MVP and last year’s NBA Finals MVP, Williams came out on top.

In 35 minutes of play off the bench, Williams was 7-of-14 with 21 points, going 6-of-9 from the three-point line. He added five rebounds and two assists. The Greek Freak got his, dropping 28 points, but he was 11-of-27 from the field with six turnovers thanks to Williams’ tough defense.

That evened the series for Boston 1-1. It also suggested, finally that the former Tennessee basketball star has true star power at the NBA level as well, and everybody else needs to take notice. Although he’s still not starting, Williams is making the most of his minutes.

This is the third time in five games Williams has scored double figures. He did it twice during Boston’s sweep of Brooklyn, including scoring 14 points on 5-of-8 from the field in the close-out game. The guy is truly on a roll and just needs more minutes.

What really stands out for Williams is the fact that he’s doing this while usually going head-to-head with the biggest star on the other team. When he was in the game for Boston, he often went one-on-one with Kevin Durant. Now he’s dealing with the same thing against Giannis.

Another thing that stands out, which Tennessee basketball fans already knew about, is his mental toughness. Williams wasn’t ready for the change of pace against Giannis in Game 1 and scored just eight points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field. All signs were that Giannis exposed him, as he had a triple-double.

However, Williams adjusted after that game and came back with a dominant performance Tuesday. His toughness, his defense and his ability to stretch the floor with his three-point shooting are all huge assets to Boston.

Since he’s already proving he can hang with the best of them on the biggest stage, there are two more steps for Williams to become elite. The first is being more consistent from the outside, but the second is finding creative ways to score in the paint. That was his bread and butter with Tennessee basketball under Barnes. However, he is arriving as we speak.

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