Lou Williams and D’Antoni: It’s Magic

It didn’t take Magic Johnson long to execute his first deal after burning down the Lakers front office house and inserting himself and Rob Pelinka in charge. He traded professional scorer Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for a 2017 first round draft pick. He also picked up Corey Brewer, whose contract was a near match to Williams, as loose change. Johnson sent Williams to the three point loving D’Antoni, a marriage made in perimeter shooting heaven. Williams, the Lakers leading scorer, never met a three point shot he didn’t like. And in a classic Williams moment earlier in the season, when asked about defense, he said, “why are you asking me about defense? I’m a scorer.” The only fault D’Antoni will have with Williams is that he can hold the ball at times but for the most part this is a perfect pairing. Williams loves to shoot and D’Antoni loves players who love to shoot.

Both teams get what they want. The Rockets seemingly have given up on defense and the more scorers the better. The Lakers, by getting rid of their best player, are trying to tip the tanking deck. If they finish out of the top three of the lottery the 76ers get their pick and they lose their pick in 2019 too, so they have a lot at stake.

In a historical abysmal season, Lou Williams was the most consistent Laker but my favorite Williams quote came last year amid all the D’Angelo Russell- Nick Young teammate on teammate video crime. It was Williams who said, “it’s okay to grow up” referring to the immature Russell.

Williams is leaving the kiddie table to eat with the grownups. He was the good solider on a bad team, rarely if ever complaining. Now he is rewarded for his patience.

It was already difficult to guard the Rockets and it is going to be even harder with Eric Gordon and Lou Williams on opposite sides of the floor. Someone is going to get wide open shots.

This is the best year of Williams career. Had he been on any other team he would be a shoo-in for Sixth Man of the Year but no one rewards heroes on pathetic teams. The numbers though speak for themselves.

44% shooting, a number he hasn’t posted since his fifth season in the league with the 76ers. 38.6% from three, a career high. 88% from the line, a career high. 18.6 points a career high. The best offensive rating of his career. A 24.1 PER the highest of his career. He is ranked second among shooting guards behind James Harden (Real Plus-Minus).

Lou Williams scored 40 points, 55% field goals, against Memphis. The next game he dropped 38 points on Utah. He had a 35 point game against Phoenix, a 31 point game in Portland. No worries Daryl Morey, he is not a mid-range shooter. He makes threes, long two’s and crazy four point plays. He is crafty with the ball as he slices to the rim and tricks defenders into fouling him as he launches his perimeter bombs.

A high school player, the 6-1 Williams was drafted by the 76ers in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft. Seven players from the second round are currently active: Lou Williams, C.J. Miles (Pacers), Monta Ellis (Pacers), Ersan Ilyasova (76ers), Brandon Bass (Clippers), Marcin Gortat (Wizards), Amir Johnson (Celtics).

Williams signed an extension with the 76ers after his rookie deal, then signed with the Hawks (2012) as a free agent. He tore his ACL in a game against Brooklyn but he came back strong, signing with Toronto (2014) and winning Sixth Man of the Year in 2015. He was in his second year with the Lakers before the trade.

This season Lou Wiliams has posted the second worst defensive rating of his career so he fits the Mike D’Antoni profile. He loves to score; it is what he does best. Scoring is what the Rockets do best too. He is a great teammate with a humble attitude who only cares about winning. It is easy to get lost in the L.A. off court drama but Williams remained professional and prepared.

Prepared is what he will be in Houston. Prepared to score 24-7.

photo via llananba