New York won’t be the only team vying for the services of the former 22nd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Williams has been linked to other teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, and Dallas Mavericks.
He is a restricted free agent and the Celtics would most likely match any offer in order to involve him in a sign and trade. Boston is reportedly asking for a first-round pick in return for Williams.
How could the 6’6” forward help the Knicks?
Grant played 79 regular season games this past season and averaged 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 26 minutes per game. His field goal, three-point, and free throw percentages were all down this season as he saw an increase in attempts from 2021-22.
In the playoffs, he averaged 17.7 minutes in 15 games and his percentages were better but obviously, he took way fewer shots.
The “dip in three-point percentage” isn't as drastic as seems. In 2021-22 he hit 106/258 (41.1%) from deep. In 2022-23, he hit 115/291 (39.5%). Just under 40 percent is very respectable and would help the Knicks out a lot with spacing. Grant has a history of some big shooting games in the playoffs which I’ll link below. Adding a guy with playoff experience is never a bad idea.
His foul shooting drop-off in the regular season was bizarre but I believe an anomaly. He hit 94/122 (77.0%) foul shots in the regular season but hit 8/10 (80.0%) in the playoffs. I bring up the foul shooting because that was a weak point for the Knicks this season. Especially in the playoffs where they averaged the most attempts but shot the fourth-worst percentage. As long as Tom Thibodeau is coaching the Knicks, physical play and getting to the line will continue to be emphasized.
He also did see an increase in assists, going from 1.0 in 2021-22 to 1.7 in 2022-23. A jump like that seems minimal but in a sport where a split decision could end up being a deciding factor in a game, it’s nice to know he improved his ability to create for others.
Grant wouldn’t just be a player you stick in the corner and forget about. Defenses don't want to sleep on him as he hit 28/61 (45.9%) from the right corner this season and 25/64 (39.1%) from the left corner. He’s not the type of player to blow by defenses but could be a deadly weapon looking for his own shot or swinging it back to others on the perimeter.
He finished the season an encouraging +4.4 in win shares and was a +0.5 value above replacement player. His offensive advanced stats haven't been the best over the course of his career but he has shown nice value on the defensive side of the ball. He’d fit right into the Knicks' defensive style, being able to guard multiple positions.
Of course, with many decisions in sports, there are always negatives you can point to. Grant is undersized, not a great rebounder, not super quick, and has a curious cockiness to him that is a bit unjustified. He yearns to be this generation’s Draymond Green without having the skill set or standing within league circles to do so. It may sound a bit harsh but an attitude change and realization would likely need to be noticed for Grant to have staying power long term in the NBA.
A counter one can say is his unwavering confidence is what has gotten him this far and he should continue to lean into it. I fall on the side of letting the play do the talking and not the talking be your main play.
We all remember Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat when Grant got in the face of Jimmy Butler, angering the Heat superstar who proceeded to take his soul over the next few minutes.
These are intangibles that can make fanbases either love or hate a player. I appreciate all Grant Williams can bring to the table as a shooter, floor spacer, and developing defender. He’s the type of player you make a move for but at the right price. The Knicks shouldn't start ponying up first-round picks for the current Celtic to hop on the saddle back to New York.
The 24-year-old is a serviceable player that would be an upgrade for the Knicks roster. Is he worth the $20 million a year he is seeking from the Celtics and the asking price Boston is looking for in return? Time will tell.
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