Years in the NBA: 13
Position: Combo guard
Weight: 175 lbs.
Key Stats: Scored a career-high 22.6 ppg, while also averaging 2.5 rpg, a career-high 5.3 apg, and 1.1 spg in 32.8 minutes. During his first season with the Clippers, Williams appeared in 79 games (12 starts) en route to his second Sixth Man of the Year trophy. His shooting splits were: 43.5/35.9/88.0.
Contract Status: Signed 3-year, $24 million extension with Clippers in February. Final year is guaranteed $1.5 million.
To say Lou Williams put together a career year in Los Angeles last season would be a little like saying the Beatles were a British band of some consequence. Williams averaged 22.6 points per game. His previous career best was 17.5 points, which occurred the season before. He dished out 5.3 assists, more assists per game better than his 2009-10 career-best total of 4.2. And the month of January, when Williams put away his second-ever Sixth Man of the Year Award, he was a borderline MVP candidate, averaging 28.2 points, 6.3 assists and making 90.4 percent of this foul shots.
“I just went into the season and played,” Williams said at Media Day. “I obviously had an opportunity to play more minutes than usual because of so many different injuries and different lineups. I just think that’s how the season went for me.”
To expect another season like that from Williams may be a bit of an overreach. He’ll turn 32 in a month. He’ll play fewer minutes with the Clippers healthy and deep at the guard position. And there will likely be simply some natural regression to the mean.
Still, in a lineup without true go-to scorer, Williams will still be a dynamic threat off the bench. He’ll probably play 25-30 minutes per night, and he’ll most certainly provide the role of “professional scorer” the the Clippers need.
Rookie Jerome Robinson, who has only faced Williams in pickup games thus far, knows what kind of impact the Clippers’ leading scorer can make.
“I can tell that he’s a pure scorer. Watching him and the way he uses his body, the way he plays, it’s really effortless,” Robinson said. “It’s awesome to watch. There are definitely some pointers I can take from him.”
Robinson at some point may be one of the guards who will eat into Williams’ minutes, but that likely won’t happen early on. And if the Clippers remain in contention, it might not happen at all. Williams believes the Clippers were contenders a year ago, and that the expectation around Los Angeles should be that they make the playoffs in 2018-19. If they do, another 16-17 points per game with 45/48/90 shooting splits will be necessary from their only go-to guy in the clutch.
The caveat to all of that, however, is that Williams could be a viable trade piece if the Clippers make a move. There were rumors a year ago that Williams could have headed to the Cavaliers, or others, at the deadline, and when a player has appeared on six teams in seven years, it’s not like he’s untouchable. He has a cap-friendly deal because of the low dollar guarantee in year three, and he is unquestionably valuable as a premier bench scorer. Whether that will be with the Clippers for the duration of the deal, remains to be seen.