LA Clippers guard Lou Williams has been named the NBA’s top reserve three times in his career. Here’s why he should win another Sixth Man of the Year award this season.
The 2019-20 LA Clippers are blessed with a wealth of talent. They have mastered the roster-juggling act of featuring top-tier NBA stars without sacrificing depth. This allows the team to throw various different lineup combinations at their opponents making them adjust on the fly in any game. Lou Williams is one of the most important pieces in this puzzle.
The 33-year-old guard may come off the Clippers’ bench, but his 29.3 minutes-per-game played this season rank him second overall on the team. His scoring versatility, and fit with the players around him make him a skeleton-key player who can fit in and unlock any lineup combination the team can throw out on the court. His 18.7 points-per-game this year rank him third on the team behind stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
The Sixth Man of the Year award has a history of being given to bench players who can put up big scoring numbers. This has been Williams’ strength throughout his career, and part of the reason why he’s won the award three times previously. This season, of serious contenders for the award (of which we’re including teammate Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder, Davis Bertans, and Derrick Rose) Williams ranks second in points-per-game just behind Schroder’s mark of 19.0.
He’s adjusted perfectly to his slightly evolving role this season, after the team added Leonard and George last summer. Last season, Williams lead the team in scoring and field goal attempts while this year he’s been asked to defer a bit to the team’s new stars. He still puts up numbers, while also drawing the attention of defenses away from Leonard and George, giving them more space to operate.
Williams is also contributing high-value minutes and production to a deep team with a lot of options. His numbers may not exactly jump off the page when compared to the rest of this year’s candidates, but his production means more to a team looking to make a run at the NBA title. He’s also able to keep pace (or outpace) many of the other contenders for the award while being placed into lineups that regularly feature other legitimate scoring options. He’s not always the go-to scorer when he’s on the floor, yet he manages to be productive and find ways to thrive.
Williams is coming off two-straight Sixth Man of the Year award wins, and the 2019-20 trophy is his to lose. His versatile fit into many different Clippers lineups makes him one of the best bench pieces in the NBA. Voter fatigue and competition from one of his own teammates may be the only obstacles in his way from taking home the award again this year.