The Lou Williams Stranger

Not that it is all Lou Williams fault, but when you gladly take the money to play on a team that is developing talent and saying farewell to a legend, then sometimes this is the unintended consequence: you have the worst shooting year of your career.

The Lou Williams numbers, 39% field goals, 32% from three, are hardly indicative of a player who won the Sixth Man of the Year award a few months ago and who teammate DeMar DeRozan called, “a cool dude”.  In fact, what is “cool” about Williams, is his shot making. But these are the worst numbers Williams has ever amassed and he’s a player that tore his ACL. To look at him now is to see a stranger.

Of late, he has had found some consistency. On the road trip, his worst games were the first game and the last. Against the 76ers he shot 33% from three, and against the Rockets he shot 20%. The six other games he was 15-30, 50%.

The point in signing Williams was to space the floor and add three point shooting depth to a team with inexperienced players. Williams is handling the ball more than was expected and early in the season  his expanded game was punctuated by missed drives and floaters and reverse layups and distance bombs. His hand was hurting, that attributed to his horrible efficiency, but even before the hand was swollen he was having a tough time making shots.

The lack of production however didn’t seem to deter Byron Scott who has deep loyalty to veteran guards. He consistently chooses Williams over D’angelo Russell just like he chose Ronnie Price over Jeremy Lin last year.

All is not lost even as Williams is not a pure point guard, not in the sense he is out on the floor to help others get their shots. He’s a scorer, a streaky one at best.

Of those who play 20 minutes or more, William’s field goal percentage is the second worst of any player on this mismatched, young and inexperienced Lakers squad. He makes Nick Young look Iverson-ish. Young is shooting 41%. On the team, there are rookies and second year players and old tired champions and then there is Lou Williams trying to drag himself out of this  funk.

Yes, he is getting to the line more than anyone on the team. His five trips per game are important pillars to support his 13.6 point average and it’s a good thing that Williams is not letting his bad start affect his confidence. He is continually launching shots, believing, I suppose, you can’t miss what you don’t try. Against Houston, it was 10 shots, 7 misses.

The Lakers have won three games on the season, a disaster, but in a truth is stranger than fiction way, the retirement tour of Kobe Bryant is oddly comforting. Every game now is a home game with the Lakers legend being serenaded. The rest of the players grab his crumbs as Lakers fans fill buildings.

Lou Williams wasn’t offered a contract by the Toronto Raptors despite winning Sixth Man of the Year. In the playoffs, when he was in the game, the Wizards scored at will against him. When you sign Lou Williams, you make a compromise to live on his offense and shut your eyes to his defense. Except there wasn’t offensive efficiency early.

What Williams is hoping to do is to continue his slump-busting and regain the form that made him Sixth Man of the Year. He is playing 27 minutes a game, and now is replacing injured Jordan Clarkson as a starter. He is making $500,000 per average point. He has two more years guaranteed at the same price, $7 million.

At the point guard slot, there is 19 year old D’angelo Russell and then there is Lou. Lou is a veteran so he is the more experienced baller. He is guaranteed plenty of time to try to figure this out with Scott trusting him, calling end of game plays for Williams twice. In the first game of the season, Williams missed a floater. Against Orlando, his game winning shot missed the rim entirely which gave the Magic an opportunity for a last second shot which they drained.

Once upon a time he used to be Sweet Lou.

Now it’s just Lou Williams, trying to put the ball in the hole.

photo via llananba