Fans of the Golden State Warriors would be well aware of the talent of Robert Williams III, with the 25-year-old having played against the franchise for the Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals.
Although injury has often halted his progress, when on the floor Williams has developed into one of the best young shot-blockers in the league. Most recently, his growth from a late first-round pick to defensive specialist saw him moved as one of the key pieces in Boston’s acquisition of Jrue Holiday.
After initially being dealt to Portland in the Damian Lillard deal, the Trail Blazers turned around and flipped Holiday to the Celtics for Williams, Malcolm Brogdon and two first-round picks.
Despite the Portland Trail Blazers’ intent to keep him, the Golden State Warriors should keep a long-range eye on Robert Williams III.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “the Blazers are expected to want to keep Williams.” That makes sense given that, at 25-years-old, he still fits Portland’s young core of rising talent.
What doesn’t quite make sense is the fact the franchise had also acquired Deandre Ayton from Phoenix in the Lillard deal just days earlier. Despite proving to be a starting calibre player in the league, Williams is now almost certainly confined to a bench role behind the 25-year-old Ayton.
Determined to integrate Chris Paul and their other recent acquisitions, the Warriors appear comfortable with their roster heading into the season. But while they shouldn’t be banging on Portland’s door about Williams’ availability, they should at least be keeping an eye on his role with his new team this season.
The 6’9″ center is set to make $37.3 million total in the next three seasons, starting with an $11.6 million deal in 2023-24. That team-friendly contract makes him a realistic and valuable target for the Warriors while retaining their top-end players in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Paul, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green.
Injury limited Williams to just 35 games for the Celtics last season where he averaged 8.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. He averaged 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.4 blocks across 61 games for the Celtics in the 2021-22 season.
Golden State may be happy with their current center rotation entering the season, but it can’t be denied that Williams would give them an interior shot-blocking presence they don’t currently have were he to become available.