The Mavericks front office was hard at work this offseason.
After a very disappointing season a year ago, general manager Nico Harrison brought in some new faces to the Mavericks this summer, the most notable being former Celtic Grant Williams.
Re-signing Kyrie Irving to a 3-year contract will steal the headlines, but the addition of Williams gives the Mavericks a defensive anchor they’ve been missing. He should play a similar role to what Dorian Finney-Smith had been doing in previous years. If so, he will quickly become a favorite of MFFLs.
He brings a toughness and edge that the Mavs desperately need. He also has the rare ability to guard all 5 positions while still being a decent threat on the offensive side of the ball.
Before being drafted 22nd overall to Boston, Williams enjoyed a very good career at Tennessee. He was selected as an All-SEC player as a freshman, sophomore, and junior. He even brought home the SEC Player of the Year award in 2018 and 2019, leaving behind a solid legacy for the Vols.
Once in Boston, he was able to crack the rotation as a rookie and even got some starts along the way. He flashed some real promise in his first 3 years and was a solid member of their rotation. However, playing on a loaded Boston squad with scoring wings in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Williams was unable to get significant minutes, and he eventually fell out of favor, failing to crack the rotation during Boston’s playoff run last year.
The Celtics were disappointed in how they finished last year after going to the Finals the year prior. Brad Stevens and the Boston front office decided to move on from a few key players, including Williams and Marcus Smart. Williams was brought over in a 3-team trade that saw former Mav Reggie Bullock go to San Antonio, and Boston received some 2nd round picks.
Williams was not given much liberty on the offensive side of the ball in Boston, but I think he will get a lot more freedom in Dallas playing with Luka and Kyrie. The Mavs are not as loaded at the wing as Boston was, which should result in more minutes and offensive opportunities.
A change of scenery should do wonders for Williams, who has the confidence to be a solid rotation member.
His position is still up in the air, but I think he has enough versatility to play the 3 or 4 and physical enough to play some small ball 5.
After signing Williams to a 4-year $54 million extension this summer, I expect him to carry more minutes than he did in Boston. He probably will be a starter, depending on how Jason Kidd feels about Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber.
I think the Mavs could feature some big lineups this year, with the potential of Williams, Kleber, Powell, Doncic, and Irving all on the floor simultaneously. That could be the best defensive lineup the Mavs have to offer.
If Williams can shoot the ball from 3 at a rate north of 35 percent and bring the defensive ability he’s shown his whole career, this should prove to be a very wise pickup for Dallas.