Chris Forsberg

Inside the summer workouts aimed at making Robert Williams more dynamic

Skills trainer Aaron Miller is helping Robert Williams add a new dimension to his offensive repertoire.

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Before Houston-based skills trainer Aaron Miller started working with Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III this summer, he wanted the scouting report on areas where Williams III could improve.

Miller dove into the tape. He crunched the advanced metrics on Williams’ III offensive profile. He reached out to coaches and Boston’s front office staff seeking input. But it was Boston’s rim-running, shot-swatting big man who gave it to Miller straight: Williams III needs to be more selfish.

Williams III told Miller how even Boston's biggest superstars tend to give him grief for not looking for his own offense more. It laid the foundation for summer workouts aimed at not only expanding Williams III’s offensive toolbox but sending him into training camp next season with a supersized confidence about how he can impact the game on that end of the floor.

Celtics Talk: Inside Robert Williams' offseason workouts | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"[Jayson Tatum is] mad at Rob when he isn't taking shots," said Miller. "And he is mad at Rob -- not mad, but holding him accountable -- when he isn't taking shots and when he isn't being a threat or looking at the goal.

" ... When Rob gets rebounds and throws it out to [Tatum or Jaylen Brown] to shoot it, I could tell you 12 other superstars in the NBA that would be so happy because they're trying to get their shot attempts up. But Jayson Tatum, and I don't know him personally, but just in the sense of him saying, 'Rob, we need you to shoot that, we need you,' -- man, I thought that was amazing for Rob's confidence moving forward.

"It's basically giving him the nod like, 'Hey, it’s OK that you're taking those shots. It's OK that you're taking those midrange (shots) because we need you to take them.’ Because, like I said, it'll open up other opportunities for [Tatum and Brown]."

In a sea of trainers quick to post every eye-catching clip of their clients from summer workouts to social media, Miller is conflicted about the process. He’s eager to showcase the hard work but frets when fans fixate on a single highlight.

Miller purposely buried a clip of Williams III making a 3-pointer at the end of a highlight reel he posted this week. He was overwhelmed by the response, not only from swooning Celtics fans but also many of the Twitter's keyboard trainers who were quick to nitpick Williams III’s shot mechanics.

Miller wants the singular focus of these month-long sessions with Williams III to be on making him a more complete player for when the Celtics huddle again in September. Everything they work on is geared towards actual ways that Williams III can impact winning.

"Just taking some of those sets that maybe Tatum likes to run, or taking some of those actions that Jaylen Brown likes to run, and just putting Rob in those different actions and situations and sets," said Miller. "That’s why I have two or three people on my staff that are in each of the actions with me. It's not just me and Rob, we're not just out there checking boxes. We're actually trying to get some real work in.

“With as much attention as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum get in handoffs and pick-and-roll actions, I do think there is opportunity for Rob to expand out 2-to-3 feet with the short rolls. Or maybe when they're getting double-teamed to put it on the ground, find an open teammate in the corner. I told Rob, this is a goal of mine and it will be of yours, that I want you to go into training camp at the end of September, I want you to go in there and I want you to be in tiptop shape and I want you to go in there with the utmost confidence."

For Williams III, this is a rare offseason where he’s been 1) healthy and 2) training outside of Boston. The Louisiana native recently purchased a home in Houston and his agent, Kevin Bradbury, linked him up with Miller, who has worked with other NBA talent including fellow LIFT Sports Management clients like Pat Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt. 

Celtics big man Robert Williams has linked up with Houston-based trainer Aaron Miller for workouts this summer.

Miller has worked closely with Celtics director of rehabilitation Steve Mount, who recently dropped in on the workouts, to ensure Williams III stays healthy with a priority being put on making sure Williams III is able to stay on the court next season.

Williams III has made the entire process easier by immediately buying into Miller’s approach.

"I don't know how well people know him but [Williams III] is one of the most humble guys; he bought into what I’m saying, the goal, the vision I had for him," said Miller. "He comes with his palms up, open arms in a sense, where he wants to learn, he wants to get better, he wants to put in the work.

"... He didn't play as many games as he wanted to last season. Rob is excited; this is his first healthy offseason. So he's ready. He's ready to jump into it and get to work."

Miller has put a priority on putting Williams III in spots where he can more aggressively take advantage of his offensive talents, particularly as a cutter. 

"The last three years, Rob is the second best cutter," said Miller, who noted Williams III is averaging 1.53 points per play in that action, second beset among high-volume cutters. "He's great without the ball, he's great offensive rebounding, great without the ball getting in position.

"But how can we be great with the ball in our hands? How can we contribute to the offense even if teams aren't scouting for us? How can we, if they are doubling Jayson and Jaylen off those handoffs, how can I catch it and make a skip pass to somebody else for an open shot? Our whole mindset is not to just for us to put points on the board because, if you insert yourself into the action, that's gonna happen. But how can we make winning plays to get us over the hump this year?"

And what about those 3-point shots and midrange jumpers that invariably catch the eye of fans on social media?

“What I want people to understand is, even if he doesn't shoot a 3, maybe he gets it and reverses it, or maybe he gets it and throws it right back, but we're getting two birds with one stone here where he's gaining his confidence, he's getting his conditioning up, he's becoming a better screener. He’s moving around, it's just putting it all together," said Miller.

"He might not get that shot off a slip at the top key. He might not. But my thing is like, man, we're checking all those boxes as far as our goals of, he's getting in better shape, he's seeing the ball go through the net, he's establishing his confidence moving forward."

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