Lou Williams, shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers, has embraced his role as a 6th man and has made a glorious career out of coming off the bench hot and draining buckets all game long. Though well-known players are usually part of a team’s starting five, Williams works tenaciously off the bench and is an unstoppable force on the court.
The humble 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard from Lithonia, Georgia has had a very rewarding 14-year career in the NBA. Williams was drafted in 2005 and has played for teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers. Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and The Los Angeles Clippers. In 2017, Williams signed with the Los Angeles Clippers and according to Broderick Turner, with The Los Angeles Times, the team signed a three-year extension with the franchise’s top-notch reserve player in 2018.
Here’s what you need to know about Lou Williams:
1. Lou Williams Skipped College and Went Straight to the NBA
Lou Williams was an exceptional high school athlete, so receiving recognition from a college scout was inevitable. Williams committed to the University of Georgia but recalled his decision and chose a different route. According to Williams’ bio on ESPN, he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers as the 45th pick in the second round.
Though, it shows such immense skill and dedication to be drafted to the NBA straight from high school, success did not come quickly for the young athlete. After being drafted at an early age, Williams wasn’t able to deliver the way the league expected him to. According to Zion Olojede with Complex, due to his inability to score, Williams was sent to the D-Leagues. This did not deter Lou from persistently competing and putting his all out on the court. His hard work ethic was noticed and he was called back up to play with the 76ers after the team traded Allen Iverson.
Due to the “one-and-done rule,” players are no longer able to play in the NBA immediately after high school. Being a player that benefits from having the choice to not attend college, Williams obviously does not agree with the NBA’s decision to ban players from joining the league straight out of high school. In an interview with ESPN, Williams said, “Basically, our league was held up by the guys out of high school. LeBron, KG, Kobe. You have those guys and those have been the pillars of this NBA community. I just think it’s a dumb rule, personally.”
Williams began his career in the NBA very early on and though it was rocky at first, his growth as a player has proved that high school players can prosper even when they choose to skip their college career.
2. Lou Williams Considers Allen Iverson as a Mentor
According to Marc J. Spears with The Undefeated, Williams came off the bench the first four seasons with Philadelphia. In 2009, Williams was given the opportunity to reverse his role as a bench player and be a part of the starting 5-lineup. Williams took advantage of the opportunity and scored 18-points within his first 31 minutes of the game. According to Spears, he was averaging 17.4 points and 5.1 assists as a starter. An unfortunate jaw injury took Williams out and his starting career came to an end. Allen Iverson re-signed with the team and replaced Williams in the starting lineup. The competition between the two players did not create tension but rather it created a mentorship that contributed to Williams’ growth as a player.
Though Allen Iverson replaced Lou Williams as a starter for the Philadelphia 76ers, Williams learned a lot from the player. Williams said in an interview quoted in The Undefeated, “I learned a lot from just the way he approached the game. A little dude that would go out there feeling like he is 7-2. Being able to line up next to him, having the ability to compete with him, seeing how he competed for games, that was one of the career-changing experiences for me.”
Allen Iverson’s role with the 76er’s solidified Lou’s role as a reserve player. Rather than seeing this role as a setback in his career, Lou challenged himself to come off the bench and attack the bucket as hard as he could. He made a legend of himself by becoming a promising, reliable player. He not only relieves players from the game, but he contributes to the scoreboard. Williams said in an interview quoted in The Undefeated, “I had to walk it like I talked it. I had to mean it. That was the part that kind of stuck with me. I always wanted to be remembered as a team guy and not a selfish person.”
3. He Has Been the 6th Man of the Year Subsequently
Hardly anybody thinks of making a career out of being a bench player. Lou Williams has glorified this position and has received NBA’s award for 6th Man of the Year in 2015, 2018 and 2019. Williams may not start the game, but he definitely finishes it. He takes big shots and closes out important games. According to Robert Flom, with Clips Nation, Williams won his 3rd 6th Man of the Year Award this year. He and Jamal Crawford are the only players in NBA history to receive this award three different times.
It is no secret that Lou is a force when he steps foot on the court. According to Clips Nation, Lou averaged 20.2 points a game and was shooting 42.5% from the field and 36.1% from the three-point line.
“I started having some big games, started closing games and making big shots. I realized that you don’t have to start to have a big impact. It got to the point where teams didn’t want to see me coming in,” Williams said in an interview quoted in The Undefeated.
4. Lou Williams Holds the NBA Record for the Most Points Scored Off the Bench
In a 140-115-point win against the Celtics on March 11, 2019, Williams ended the night with 34 points. Not only did Williams end the night with a hot hand, but he ended the night surpassing Dell Curry’s record for the most scored buckets as a bench player. According to Anthony Koon with Heavy, Dell Curry previously held the record with 11,147 points coming off the bench. However, after the game, Williams beat this record with 11,154 points. With many more games left in Lou’s career, it is safe to say that he will continue to build on this record.
Williams has incredible ball control and incredible court vision. He is known for fearlessly attacking the basket and drawing fear into his opponents. His technique is often hard to guard. He forces his opponents to either foul him or allow him to shoot without defense. Williams is infamous for drawing in fouls and flopping when necessary.
“Now I try to get contact before the play really even starts. That’s where the foul drawing came from. I realized I wasn’t going to be as quick as I once was in my career. I had to find other ways to put points on the board and I created a knack for drawing fouls,” Williams said in an interview with ESPN. “There’s nothing you can do. You can put your arms behind your back, but then I still shoot, so, you’ve got to pick your poison.”
5. Lou Was Once Almost Robbed but Then Took His Gunman to McDonald’s
According to ESPN, on Christmas Eve in 2011, Williams was stopped in his car in a Philadelphia neighborhood, when a man approached him with a gun. After recognizing the NBA star, the gunman decided to withdraw his weapon.
“A guy tried to rob me but decided not to because of whatever I do in the community,” Williams said in an interview with Daily News. “He’s a Lou Williams Fan, so he did not rob me.”
In an interview with Taylor Rooks from Bleacher Report, Williams revealed that he recognized the man and his struggle. The gunman explained to Lou that he was aware of all that he did for the community and therefore couldn’t rob him. The gunman disclosed that he was just released from jail and he was hungry. Williams took to the man’s struggle and decided to treat him to McDonalds.
“I told him, ‘bro if you pull in let’s go in [McDonald’s] and I’ll buy you anything you want to eat,” Williams told Taylor Rooks in an interview for her podcast.
Lou Williams is lethal on the court and dominates the hoop. He has shown considerable amounts of success as a bench player and has proved that he can outscore big shooters. He’s got the flick of the wrist and contributes greatly to the Clippers’ success.