One thing is indisputable: Shelden Williams is by far and away exceeding expectations. Through eight games, he has made the most of his time replacing Big Baby Davis off the bench by averaging 16.1 minutes, 6.9 points, 5.1 boards. Rudimentary logic would say doubling his minutes would double his production (32.2 minutes, 13.8 points, 10.2 rebounds). Obviously in sports, let alone basketball, logic doesn’t hold much water. There are too many variables to make a claim like that, however, I just wanted to provide some relative production of how well Shelden Williams is doing.
To give another perspective, through seventy games last year, Leon Powe’s numbers were 17.5 minutes, 7.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, very comparable to the production we’re seeing from Williams this season. Here’s the catch though. Remember when I mentioned “expectations” earlier? Williams was brought in with the hope that he’d at least be a little better than Patrick O’Bryant, and needless to say, the Celtics are getting a far more quality player.
Don’t get me wrong. In no way is this post lobbying for Shelden to get more playing time, to supplant Big Baby as the second big off the bench when he gets healthy, or trade Big Baby for a player/ pick. I am just simply stating that Williams deserves to be played, and might actually help the Celtics more down the road.
As Celtics fans, we worry about things like minutes for the guys north of thirty and, up until recently, Rondo’s contract extension. But in the back of everyone’s mind, the one thing no one wants to talk about, is what goes on in our minds every time Kevin Garnett hits the floor hard. Every time we see normal, physical activity wincing in his face. No matter how well he plays, or how 100% he says he is or looks, the bottom line is, to us, KG is a ticking time bomb. Our only hope is that our Big Men depth buys the C’s more time. With respect to Garnett, the pleasant surprise that Shelden has been is a win-win.
Two things remain to be seen: 1) What happens with Davis returns? 2) Can Williams keep up this production for an entire season? To answer both of these in short, I can’t wait to find out and he doesn’t have to. Davis has shown steady improvement by making subtle refinements every season he’s been in the league. This year, excitement was high after he came into camp looking trim after training in an MMA gym. Unfortunately, we all know he ended up applying his new found skills kicking ass off the court before he had a chance to on the court. This, however, should hardly make anyone expect a regress in play. I believe Baby will come back and be the Baby we know and love, that is, until he gets better.
There are only 48 minutes in a basketball game and 96 if you add Perk and KG together. If both play, let’s say 28 for Funzees, that leaves 40 minutes to split among Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, and Shelden Williams. That kind of depth is scary. If you drop Shelden’s minutes to eight a game, you’re still getting four points and three boards. Hell, with this kind of depth, you may even see Big Baby at the three. If Doc is willing to give Scal a chance at it, why not Davis?
The naysayers will say Williams lacks passion, has no hands, resembles a catfish, and has a hot wife who’s a much better basketball player. The way I see it, Williams could easily be this year’s Shannon Brown; or to put it differently, just a pleasant surprise. Trust me, I went to Boston College, so rooting for Williams was difficult in the beginning. However, he’s been so solid this season, I guess my question to you is (regardless of collegiate affiliation), “how can you not root for Shelden Williams?”
(Zach Lowe will tell you why in his upcoming Counterpoint)