Grant Williams bringing experience and leadership to Charlotte

Indiana Pacers v Charlotte Hornets
Indiana Pacers v Charlotte Hornets / David Jensen/GettyImages

It has only been three games, but Grant Williams looks like a completely different player in Charlotte than he did with the Mavericks or even the Celtics. He’s only 25 but he’s playing beyond his years, and taking on a veteran leadership role that this team has been desperately needing.

College heroics

Williams was drafted 22nd overall by the Celtics in the 2019 NBA draft but was considered ready to contribute immediately. He had played three years in college at Tennessee, achieving All-SEC honors each year, and winning SEC Player of the Year in both his Sophomore and Junior seasons.

Heroics with the Celtics

Williams grew into his role with the Celtics almost instantly, and appeared in 17 playoff games as a rookie, including some huge minutes in the second round and conference finals. Grant really broke out in his third season, where he became a very integral part of the Celtics run to the NBA Finals.

He came up especially large in their massive game 7 victory over the Bucks where Williams poured in 27 points and hit 7 three-pointers. He played over 27 minutes a game in the playoffs for a team that made the finals. Not bad for a third-year player who was 23 years old.

Rubbing people the wrong way

Williams fell a bit out of favor in his final season with the Celtics under new head coach, Joe Mazzulla, and became a bit of a cap casualty last offseason when he was sign-and-traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

After a hot start with the Mavs, seeming like a great addition, things soured quickly. Reports came out that Williams had rubbed people the wrong way in Dallas, and almost had to be removed from the equation. 

That set up an all-time sell-low situation for the Mavs, who were forced to part with the player they had just traded for months earlier and give up a first-round pick in the process for P.J. Washington. Just a year ago, the value of Washington and Williams was probably considered fairly equal around the league.

A leader for the Hornets

Now, suddenly on his third NBA team in under 10 months, Williams has quickly grown up in the league and become a bit of a journeyman. It must be a bit humbling for a guy who was going toe-to-toe with the Warriors in the Finals not too long ago.

Grant has a boisterous style and personality, and his passion and energy have clearly had positive and negative effects on people around the league. But frankly, Charlotte desperately needs some of that personality. They need toughness. They need guys who give a damn. 

Williams is that guy. He’s not afraid to yell at his teammates to get them fired up or let them know when they aren’t playing the right way. He’s also the first guy to stick up for his teammates and get in the face of an opposing player. He’ll take charges, dive on loose balls, and berate the officials from time to time.

It can be a lot at times, but it’s an injection of energy and a shot in the arm that the Hornets needed. We’ve already seen an immediate impact on the defensive end, as he’s been a vocal leader on that end from the jump. 

You can say a lot of things about Grant Williams, but let nobody ever say the man doesn’t care about winning. Charlotte needs more players with that attitude and mindset.