From Sixth Man To All-Star?
If there’s one player who deserves to be on the NBA All-Star team more than anybody else in the league, it’s got to be Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers
The 2015 Sixth Man of the Year winner has built a decade long career as one of the league’s premier scorers off the bench. But with the injuries to his new team, Williams has been thrust in a starting role and has led a rag-tag Clippers squad back into playoff conversation.
Williams is averaging career highs in scoring ( 23.4 points per game ), assists ( 5.0 assists per game ), three pointers made ( 3.0 threes per game ), three point shooting ( .408 from three point distance ), free throw shooting ( .907 from the foul line ) and PER ( 22.81 ). He is also the best isolation scorer ( move over Iso Joe, here comes Iso Lou ) in the NBA today.
Sweet Lou began the season on a modest note, averaging just 13.2 points per game on 22 minutes of playing time per game. But given the series of injuries that have hit the Clippers, his playing time has increased by at least 10 minutes in the next months. WIlliams scoring average increased to 21.1 PPG in November. He upped it to 25.2 PPG in December. Now, he’s tearing up the NBA defenses with an spectacular January 2018 showing. With the All-Star team announcements coming, Williams is setting records while helping his team win.
Every year there’s someone with bonkers All-Star level numbers who doesn’t make it. Lou Williams, ladies and gents... pic.twitter.com/3SyqFYagaP— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) January 24, 2018
Setting Steals Records
Williams became only the third person in NBA history and the first since Michael Jordan in 1988 to score at least 30 points and have 10 steals in a single game. Jordan had 32 points and 10 steals against the New Jersey Nets on January 29, 1988. The only other player to record the rare 30-10 feat was Alvin Robertson. Robertson scored 30 points and had 10 steals in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on November 22, 1986.
With his 10 steals against the Phoenix Suns, WIlliams also became the only player in Clippers history to have a double digit steals in a single game. He also broke the Clippers’ franchise record of 9 steals in one game. That record was set by current Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers on November 06, 2016 against the Phoenix Suns.
Lou Williams posts 31 PTS and a franchise-high 10 STL for the @LAClippers!#ItTakesEverything pic.twitter.com/cvxlf6yzon— NBA (@NBA) January 21, 2018
50 Point Club
Last January 10, 2018, Williams also became the 5th player this season to score at least 50 points in a single game. WIlliams dropped a career best 50 points against the Golden State Warriors on the night Kevin Durant reached the 20,000 point plateau. Williams’ 50 point explosion spoiled Durant’s milestone night as he led the undermanned Clippers to a 125-106 win over the defending NBA champions.
Durant waxed hot with 40 points in that game but Williams was better as he poured in a franchise best 27 points in a scintillating third quarter performance. Williams also became only the 4th player in Los Angeles Clippers history to break the half century scoring mark in a single game. It was the first 50 point game by a Clipper since Charles Smith scored 52 points against the Denver Nuggets in 1990.
On A Tear
This record performance month is only part of a larger stretch where Lou Williams has been on a tear for the injury riddled Clippers. In his last 15 games ( dating back to December 22, 2017 ), Williams is averaging 30.2 points per game. That’s the most by any player in the league who has played in at least 8 games during that period. Williams scored at least 30 points in nine of those 15 games. The Clippers are 11-4 over that span and are 10-4 in games where Williams has scored at least 30 points in a single game.
Sweet Lou is shooting 40% of his threes during this stretch and is hitting 3.7 three pointers per game. His Effective Field Goal Percentage over his last 15 games has been an astounding 80% and he is shooting a remarkable 56.4% from 20-24 feet during this period. According to NBA.com, 35 of Williams’ 61 three pointers made during this 15 game span have come from the 25-29 feet range. Now isn’t that supposed to be Steph Curry range already?
Curry has led the league in three point field goals from above the break ( where the arc turns to a straight line ) since the 2012-13 NBA season. This year, it’s been James Harden who’s made the most three pointers from that zone at 147 so far. Klay Thompson is 2nd at 125 and Curry third at 116. Lou Williams sits at #5 but has the better shooting percentage at 43.80% in that area than Curry ( 42.6% ) and Harden ( 39% ). Only Thompson is better, just a shade better, at 44%.
Aside from his long distance shooting, Williams is also shooting a career high .907 from the free throw line. That’s just .03 off Steph Curry’s current .910 marksmanship from the foul line. In the month of January alone, Williams has had three games where he’s made at least 10 free throws without a miss. He went 15-15 against the Grizzlies on January 2, 10-10 against the Warriors during his 50 point night and 10-10 in their most recent game against the Utah Jazz on January 20th.
January To Remember
Speaking of January, this month is turning out to be the best month of Lou Williams’ basketball career. Although the Clippers still have five more games to play this month, the 31 year old guard is averaging a career best 30.1 points per game this month. Prior to this month, the best month scoring average in Williams’ career was 25.2 points per game which he set, well last month - December 2017.
But it’s not just been that Williams is just piling up the points lately. The Clippers are averaging 115.9 points per game in their last 15 games and that’s higher than the 115.1 what the best scoring team in the league - the Warriors have averaged over the same period.
At 7-3 in their last 10 games, the Clippers have climbed to 8th place in the ultra tough Western Conference and have moved to one game above the .500 mark at 23-22. That’s impressive, given that this team started the season 11-18 after injuries hit their key players one after the other. They are not even fully healthy yet, but are hanging tough right now, thanks largely to Lou Williams.
With Lou Williams’ January surge, the Clippers have resurfaced in the playoff picture. For the month of January, the Los Angeles Clippers are 7-3. As of January 21st, that’s the best Last 10 games record in the Western Conference after the Warriors who are 8-2 in their last 10 games played.
Given his body of work, Williams has a claim to be on the All-Star teams. Even he himself, believes that he should get a nod:
"Honestly, I deserve it. I rarely speak about myself because I've never set personal goals. Being an All-Star wasn't even on my radar this year. But with what this team has been through this year with injuries, with so many different lineups and still having an opportunity to compete for the playoffs and to put ourselves over .500 at this point, I think I've got something to do with that."
No one can argue with Lou Williams right now. The numbers speak for themselves. The 14 All-Star reserves will be voted upon by the 30 NBA coaches with the announcement due on January 23rd. Will the coaches recognize Lou Williams’ achievements? We’re about to find out. Regardless of the coaches’ vote though, Williams has proved that he is All-Star worthy.
Lou Williams is putting up absurd numbers in the best season of his life.— Cycle (@bycycle) January 18, 2018
Will he be an All-Star? pic.twitter.com/9MitWTkRYD