Big men have a very special place in fantasy basketball. Their ability to score efficiently and reliably rebound makes them vital cogs to any successful fantasy team. There’s a reason why guys like Andre Drummond and Nikola Vucevic are in such high demand and routinely finish top 50 in ESPN’s player rater each year.
Then you get the real fantasy stars like Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid who bring not only scoring and boards, but add assists in the case of Jokic, or solid stocks (steals plus blocks) with Embiid and Myles Turner being the poster boys for that.
With bigs having their fingers in a ton of categories, even an average NBA big can be a reliable fantasy stud (Serge Ibaka is currently ranked 43rd in ESPN player rater. No offense to Serge but he’s not an elite NBA big at this current point in his career).
If you find yourself in need of a good stat-stuffing big, let me point you in the direction of Boston Celtics’ third-year big Robert Williams, affectionately known to many as Timelord.
Now I’ll start this by saying that Williams isn’t going to come onto your team and start posting huge games. He’s currently the Celtics’ backup big, behind Daniel Theis, averaging just 17.0 minutes through Boston’s first five games (Williams was inactive for the Celtics’ Christmas showdown vs the Brooklyn Nets). However, in those minutes, Williams is averaging 7.5 PPG/5.8 RPG/0.8 APG/3.1 StPG. Only seven other players are averaging more than 7.0/5.0/0.5/2.5 to start this season: Karl-Anthony Towns, Ben Simmons, Drummond, Turner, Christian Wood, Jerami Grant, and Michael Porter Jr. I don’t need to tell you that none of these players you can add of waivers right now. Williams you can. He’s only 4% rostered in ESPN leagues.
William’s stat-line alone puts him inside ESPN’s top 75, currently ranked 53rd, ahead of Towns, Steven Adams, and Brook Lopez, as well as non-bigs like Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic, and Chris Paul. But Timelord also offers a ton of upside which fantasy managers should be buying sooner rather than later.
In two of Williams’ last three games he’s seen over 20 minutes and has recorded either double digit points or rebounds in those games. He’s also recorded a total of 11 stocks in those games.
Defense has always been a part of Williams’ game, but it’s on the offensive side of the ball that he’s shown his most marketable improvements since last year. He’s shooting an absurd 88% to start the season, mainly due to hustle plays and getting down it not the paint before defenses have a chance to settle in.
I've been one of the bigger Robert Williams critics. He's improving rapidly now and needs to play around 20 MPG. Here's my two favorite plays from last night. First, he contests against Sabonis, rebounds and then sprints the floor for the dunk. Brown with another nice pass too! pic.twitter.com/bUB7xJ7cyz— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) December 30, 2020
His offensive awareness has also improved and it’s clear he’s seeing the court better. This is wildly apparent on this beautiful assist from Williams Wednesday night against the Grizzlies. This development as a playmaker only helps Williams’ case for seeing increased minutes as the season progresses.
This tip pass from Robert Williams was tremendous: pic.twitter.com/QA23qEHSGJ— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) December 31, 2020
Currently, the young big man’s per 36 stat-line sits at 14.1/10.5/2.5/4.8. While he isn’t about to step into 36 minutes a game, I think 20 to 22 minutes per game is extremely realistic moving forward, which means he’s likely to flirt with double-doubles with a reliable two to three stocks per game. (For the record, only Embiid, Drummond, and Towns are currently averaging a double-double and two stocks a game.)
If you play in a dynasty league, Williams should be a must-add. He’s a young, productive big with the inside track to the Celtics’ starting big man role this season. If you’re in a deep redraft league, make sure you flag Williams. He may not fit on your team right now, but in a couple of weeks, he might just be the big your fantasy team is missing.