Former Tennessee Star Shining At Start Of Third NBA Season

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    (Photo via Michael Dwyer/AP Photo)

    Two time SEC Player of the Year and Tennessee basketball great Grant Williams is off to a strong start to his third NBA season.

    In three games, the former First Team All-American is averaging 12.7 points, three rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Williams averaged just 3.4 and 4.7 points in his first two NBA seasons.

    Under Boston’s first year head coach Ime Udoka, Williams is seeing his role increase. The North Carolina native started the season opener and has played the most minutes off the bench in the last two games.

    Williams has developed his game over the offseason and is emerging as a legitimate three-point shooting threat— something the Celtics are in need of.

    So far this season Williams has been an incredibly efficient 14-of-20 (70%) from the field and nine-of-13 (69%) from three-point range. The former First Team All-American, made five-of-seven triples in an 18 point performance against Houston Sunday night.

    This is a big season for Williams’ NBA value. The 22nd pick in the 2019 NBA Draft is in the third year of his rookie contract. Due to NBA contracts, after Williams’ second and third season the Celtics have a team option to pick up his contract and keep him on the roster.

    Boston did that following Williams second season, but the team would owe the undersized big man over $1.5 million more in his 2022-23 contract than in his 2021-22 contract if they exercised their team option.

    It’s just three games into a long season, but Williams is off to a great start to earning serious respect and a raise next season. His play will be important this season for a Celtics franchise facing a bit of a turning point.

    Williams, a three-year starter at Tennessee, was known for getting better each season. The power forward went from averaging 12.6 points as a freshman to 15.2 points as a sophomore to 18.8 points as a junior.

    The college star’s scoring jumps were, in part, due to his development as a shooter. Williams added a lethal midrange jump shot that was nearly unguardable as a sophomore before adding a decent three-point shot (33%) as a senior to keep defenses honest.

    Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.