Grant Williams
Danny Ainge has been searching for his version of Draymond Green for a long time. The Celtics may have finally found it with Grant Williams. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Danny Ainge has been trying to find a Draymond Green type of player for the Celtics. It’s been an ongoing hunt. Brad Stevens has forever envisioned a switchable lineup one to five. Nobody has truly mastered it outside of Golden State when they had their death lineup with Draymond Green at the 5. Since that time, Ainge has wanted his version of Draymond.

Ainge has thrown a lot of darts at the board to try to find that guy. Ben Bentil in 2016 didn’t’ last long. Boston held on to Guerschon Yabusele for far too long hoping he could be that guy. The Celtics wasted the 16th pick in the draft that year on him. Turns out “French Draymond” wasn’t very good and now he’s playing in China.

Ainge tried again in 2017 when he drafted Semi Ojeleye in the 2nd round. Ojeleye has been a solid pro but he can’t sniff Draymond level production. Ojeleye has some skill on the defensive end but he’s a very limited offensive player. He can’t play make or pick up his dribble and score at all. A good defender but not much else.

In 2018, they only had one pick and that went towards Robert Williams. Not really a Draymond type of player but Boston needs center depth. 2019, Ainge went fishing for Draymond again. With the 22nd pick, the Celtics selected Grant Williams out of Tennessee. Ainge may have finally found his guy with Williams.

Forget about the stats for a second. Williams has passed the eye test. He looks like Draymond did as a rookie. Williams hasn’t shot the ball well or has made game winning plays. What Williams has done is play real defense and just make a positive impact on the floor. Kind of what Draymond does.

If we do jump into the numbers, Williams and Draymond are pretty similar.

2012-2013 Draymond: 2.9 points, 0.3 blocks, 0.5 steals, 3.3 rebounds, 32.7%, 20.9 3-point %, 13.4 minutes, -1.2 +/-

2019-2020 Williams: 3.3 points, 0.5 blocks, 0.4 steals, 2.5 rebounds, 38.3%, 23.7 3-point %, 15 minutes, 4.8 +/-

Pretty similar. It goes beyond that. Both are 6-foot-6. Both stayed in school for a long time. Both graduated from college. Williams just happened to do it in 3 years because he’s a brainiac. Williams is listed as just 6 pounds heavier and have virtually the same frame and build.

The thing that makes Draymond, Draymond is the ability to play the 5 at a high level and open up the rest of the offense for everyone else on the floor. As a rookie, Draymond showed glimpses of this posting a defensive rating of 97.9. A very good number. Grant Williams isn’t too far behind sporting a number of 100.3 defensive rating. You can see the growth in Williams as the season has progressed. The more the year goes on, the more functional Williams looks.

If anybody has a chance to recreate what the Warriors had, it’s this Celtics team. No, they aren’t quite the same, but they are as close as it gets in the league right now. No, Kemba Walker isn’t Steph Curry, but he’s splashing close to 40 percent from down town and gets the entire offense clicking. No, Jaylen Brown isn’t’ Klay Thompson but… he’s splashing 39 percent from deep, is long, and can attack the rim. I’m not sure who Gordon Hayward resembles, but I do know his efficiency is a major positive. I’m not sure Golden State ever had 3 functional wings like Jayson Tatum, Brown, and Hayward.

The Celtics are a Draymond Green away from Banner 18. The good news is they may have finally found him. If Williams can develop and find his way into the Celtics version of the death lineup that includes Kemba, Brown, Hayward, Tatum, and Williams; good luck. That’s not including Marcus Smart off the bench either. It’s too soon to tell yet, but I think Ainge finally found what he was looking for.