If you look at some of the raw numbers, Lou Williams played well last year. He had a PER of 17.7. He hit 34.4% of his 3 pointers and got to the foul line a ton. As a key rotation player who split time as a starter and reserve, Williams was the team’s 3rd leading scorer, was their 2nd best shooter based on true shooting percentage. Ultimately, he played exactly how one would expect Lou Williams to play. For the $7 million the Lakers paid him, I’d say he represented decent value.
All of the above is not all there is to consider with Williams, however. He does not play good defense. He has a tendency to highjack possessions, dribbling a lot and either looking for his own shot or looking to draw a foul. He had the third highest usage rate on the team and played more point guard than I imagined he would when he was first signed.
Don’t get me wrong, these are all things you can live with. In fact, when you have Williams on your team, these are the things you will have to live with. They are hallmarks of his game. Normally the trade off between what he brings offensively and how he goes about providing those things tilts enough in his favor where he can be viewed as a net positive. Last year that was mostly the case, though I know fans would have preferred to have seen some of his minutes go to D’Angelo Russell or Jordan Clarkson. That’s a coaching decision, however, and not the player’s.
Which brings us to this season. The Lakers have a new coach. They are expecting — or at least they should be — for D’Angelo Russell to make a big leap forward in his 2nd season. They also just signed Jordan Clarkson to a 4 year/$50 million contract. And then, of course, they drafted Brandon Ingram, signed Luol Deng in free agency, traded for Jose Calderon, and re-upped Marcelo Huertas. Suddenly, the backcourt and wing are much more crowded than they were when the season ended and Kobe Bryant retired.
This begs the question — where does Lou Williams fit? Honestly, I am having a hard time answering this question.