Weight: 175 pounds
Position: Shooting guard
NBA Experience: 15th season overall, third with Clippers
Key Stats: Averaging 18.7 points and 5.7 assists per game. Scoring predictably down from where it was last season with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the fold. Shooting 36.3% from three-point range, his best mark as a Clipper.
Contract Status: Earning $8 million per season until the end of the 2021-22 campaign. Agreed to a three-year extension worth $24 million in February of 2018.
Lou Williams has never not won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award as a member of the Clippers. He’s won the award three times overall, including each of his first two seasons in town. If betting odds are any indication, Sweet Lou might achieve his own personal three-peat this season. At the time of the stoppage, Lou was listed at +150 to win the award this season, which put him just ahead of Montrezl Harrell (+175).
Lou was an offensive focal point for the Clippers last season when their ragtag, starless roster made life difficult on the Warriors in the first round of last year’s playoffs. He was still expected to serve as the team’s primary ball-handler with the second unit coming into 2019-20, but his scoring numbers were always going to dip with Kawhi and PG entering the fray.
Doc Rivers’ guard rotation to begin the season was really three-deep with Williams, Patrick Beverley, and Landry Shamet, but Reggie Jackson has obviously been added to the mix since.
Williams averaged exactly 20 points per game last season on 15.2 shot attempts per game. So far this year, his average has dipped slightly to 18.7 points on 14.7 tries. It’s worth noting, though, that he’s playing more minutes. Lou is at 29.3 minutes per game on the year after logging 26.6 a night last season.
Williams’ job is to provide scoring, playmaking, and energy off the bench. He’s clearly an individual minus as a defender, but this iteration of the Clippers is well-stocked with capable defenders at the guard and wing spots.
Lou’s defense isn’t getting any better as he ages, and his shortcomings on that end could wind up costing him crunch-time minutes once the playoffs come around. Doc didn’t really have the option to bench Lou last year considering he was the go-to guy offensively. He’s still the same microwave scorer capable of getting buckets in a hurry, but he’s no longer the only guy on the roster capable of doing so.
There may be no more fun player on the team to watch when he’s got it rolling offensively, and his pick-and-roll partnership with Harrell is becoming legendary. The Clips probably have the most formidable second unit in basketball thanks in large part to those two. I’m not a huge fan of the idea of having both Kawhi and PG on the bench at the same time in the postseason, especially for defensive purposes, but Williams can at least help the team stay relevant in those minutes.
His defense and turnover issues (2.9 per game, almost a career-high) are understandably frustrating, but his role is clear.
Future With Clippers
As mentioned, Lou has another year left on his deal after this one. He’s making just $8 million, and he’ll turn 34 this coming October. Last July, the team agreed to fully guarantee his salary for next season. Lou seems like the kind of player whose offensive game may not diminish much as he ages, but there’s no telling whether he’ll factor into the Clippers’ plans beyond 2020-21.
Lou admitted that he considered retirement after being traded several times over the course of a couple of years, but he seems to have found a home with the Clips. Here’s hoping he can help bring a ring to LA before deciding what’s next.