BOSTON - Shelden Williams is grateful that the Atlanta Hawks drafted him 5th overall out of Duke University in 2006.
He is grateful that the Hawks gave him his first chance in the NBA, but now he looks at them like they are "just another team."
The Hawks had high-hopes for Williams when they drafted him, but he feels like he never got a chance to live up to those expectations, averaging just 5.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game as a rookie. The following year his numbers dropped to 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds and then he was traded to Sacramento for Mike Bibby.
Williams said that it was difficult playing for the Hawks because he never knew what to expect night in and night out. Some nights he would play a lot. Other nights he wouldn't play at all.
In the end, the Hawks decided to draft Al Horford 3rd overall in 2007, and they put their center/power forward future in Horford's hands instead of Williams'.
"There wasn't a problem," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said of Williams. "I just think after his first year we brought Al Horford in and we started to play Al Horford. Then we made the trade to bring Mike Bibby over. It wasn't a knock against Shelden. The organization and my staff and I decided to go in another direction. Shelden has rebounded from it and has landed in I think a wonderful situation for him."
Williams is glad to be a Celtic, and Woodson, as well as Atlanta captain Joe Johnson, both said that they are glad that Williams has found a home in Boston.
"In the NBA, if you play this game long enough, you are going to do well in certain spots and sometimes it's not going to work out," Woodson said. "That's just the nature of the league. Shelden has moved from us to a couple of different [teams] and he finally found a home and I'm happy for him because that's what it's all about."
"I think Shelden is a great guy," Johnson said. "For him to get a chance to sit back and watch guys like Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace, that's probably going to be the biggest thing for his career. I hope he takes advantage of this opportunity."
So far Williams has taken advantage of his opportunities with the Celtics. He is averaging a career-best 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while filling in on Boston's second unit for the injured Glen Davis (broken right thumb).
"Shelden is a solid player," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "Shelden was a high draft pick for a reason and he was a dominant player in college for a reason. My job, our staff's job, is to get that out of him. It's in there. He has a great opportunity to do it with this team."
"I think this is one of the better situations that I've been in," Williams said. "Hopefully I'll continue to have the opportunities but I think by far this is the probably the best situation that I've been in."