Jayson Tatum can play the Robert Williams ‘free safety’ role for the Celtics

Robert Williams goes to leave out 8-12 weeks of motion. In flip, the Boston Celtics’ protection is about to take an enormous hit. They will have to nonetheless be one among the height defensive gadgets in the league, however with out Williams, they are going to be lacking an enormous a part of what made them particular on that finish of the flooring.

For the first time in his occupation, Williams wasn’t requested to protect opposing bigs. Instead, Al Horford took on the ones tasks, leaving Williams to protect the nook and roam. He performed a “free safety” role on protection, floating over to the lane, blocking off photographs on drives, and closing down opposing offenses.

Based on the preseason, it kind of feels as regardless that Joe Mazzulla plans on going small to start out the yr with Derrick White in the beginning lineup. And whilst this small ball lineup creates some constraints relating to the loose protection role, that doesn’t imply Boston will have to abandon the thought altogether.

As for who would change Williams in the role, Jayson Tatum sticks out as the obtrusive selection.

Tatum is indexed at 6’8, only one inch shorter than what Williams is indexed at, however actually, they give the impression of being round the similar peak after they play subsequent to every. Williams is an athletic freak, then again, which permits him to play taller than his peak, however Tatum isn’t a non-athletic wing. He would possibly not be capable to get as prime as Williams, but when he can be informed the proper timing and spacing, it generally is a precious device to have.

Here’s Williams taking over the loose protection role. Instead of dad or mum Kelly Olynyk, he’s in the nook on Cory Joseph. When Olynyk will get the ball on the within, Williams rotates over and denies him at the rim.

For Tatum, he would basically be taking part in this role in lineups with Horford and no secondary giant. The lineup of Marcus Smart, White, Jaylen Brown, Tatum, and Horford didn’t get a ton of mins ultimate yr, however Tatum did play the section in some lineups the place Williams wasn’t on the flooring.

On this play, Tatum is in the nook, simply as Williams could be, matched up towards Delon Wright. When Trae Young makes a transfer towards the rim, Tatum rotates over and stuffs him.

Again, right here’s Tatum guarding the nook guy, Matisse Thybulle. Tyrese Maxey breaks thru the protection, however Tatum is there in time to report the block. This play is rather other as it happens in transition, however the fundamentals of the protection stay true.

These are two cherry-picked examples from an extended season filled with other defensive seems to be, however the level is that Tatum has acted in the loose protection role sooner than. It might not be one thing he’s used to, however he’s able to doing it in sure scenarios. And with Williams out for a longer time period, spending extra time in the role may just assist the Celtics care for their elite defensive presence.

Having Tatum guard the nook and rotate over at a second’s understand may just additionally assist the workforce’s rebounding. In their preseason finale towards the Toronto Raptors, Boston were given utterly out-hustled on the glass. If Tatum have been to sit down in the nook as the loose protection, he would be capable to center of attention extra on rebounding.

Now, as discussed, there are indubitably downsides to putting Tatum in the Williams role, one among which being the Celtics would lose him as a fringe defender. Tatum’s an elite on-ball defender, and having him play off the ball could be dismissing that talent at issues in the recreation.

However, with Smart, White, and Brown conserving issues down up on the perimeter, Boston will have to be capable to spare Tatum a little bit now and then. He doesn’t need to play the Williams role 24/7, nevertheless it’s indubitably a glance they will have to really feel at ease throwing in the market.

And, if the rest, the truth that he’s any such nice perimeter defender would most effective assist him play loose protection. When Williams acted in that role ultimate yr, defenses would now and again get the ball to the nook and feature that participant take Williams one-on-one. Oftentimes, this ended in a chase-down block, as Williams is fast and athletic sufficient to stay alongside of smaller avid gamers.

This is an instance of simply that. DeAndre Bembry tries to take Williams off the dribble however finally ends up getting blocked from at the back of.

Here’s Tatum getting beat via Dejounte Murray however convalescing in a large manner.

Tatum’s block wasn’t rather as explosive as Williams’, and until he magically good points 5 inches on his vertical, they by no means shall be. But a block is a block. Tatum is fast sufficient to regain floor on faster defenders and lengthy sufficient to dam them from at the back of. That’s the place his abilities as a fringe defender will come into play. (They’ll additionally assist him chorus from getting blown via in the first position.)

It’s additionally necessary to notice the obtrusive distinction in measurement. When Williams used to be taking part in this role, Boston ran a large lineup, with Smart being the shortest participant. After that, they’d Brown, Tatum, Williams, and Horford. If Tatum have been to tackle the process, he’d be doing it in a extra conventional lineup. For that reason why, Tatum will have to most effective play the loose protection role towards lineups the place it will be wonderful.

For instance, let’s have a look at this play towards the Miami Heat ultimate yr. Tatum is taking part in in the nook, the place he could be stationed as the loose protection, however the man he’s guarding is Max Strus (an elite three-point shooter). Because of that, Tatum is so occupied with combating an open 3 that Bam Adebayo is in a position to get an open layup.

This similar factor may just happen towards groups like the Brooklyn Nets (Seth Curry), Golden State Warriors (Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole), and Milwaukee Bucks (Pat Connaughton). Essentially, any workforce that has a delegated shooter positioned in the nook would be capable to get a divorce the loose protection role, particularly towards Tatum, who wouldn’t be as at ease in that place as Williams used to be.

However, towards a workforce like the Raptors, who don’t essentially have any knockdown three-point shooters, putting Tatum in the nook generally is a respectable thought. Whenever the opposing workforce puts a non-shooter in the nook or dunker spot, having Tatum play the loose protection role might be one thing to significantly imagine.

It shouldn’t be an enduring exchange. Tatum continues to be a top-notch perimeter defender, and the Celtics want him to protect the perimeter when matching up with avid gamers like Kevin Durant or Bradley Beal. However, after they can escape with it, permitting Tatum to roam the courtroom as a loose protection would permit their protection to care for that concept whilst Williams is sidelined, giving them but any other distinctive glance to throw at combatants.

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