Lou Williams has been making headlines for all the right reasons this season for the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s been absolutely killer coming off the bench, putting up career-high numbers while scoring at a historic rate. Just how good has he been? Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak went as far as calling Williams the team’s most valuable player during a season-ticket holder event, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.
Considering Williams is coming off of a four-game span where he scored the highest total as a bench player in NBA history, Kupchak’s certainly justified in giving Sweet Lou a nod here. That he’s scoring a team-high and career-high 19.3 points in 25.2 minutes per game, while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc, is further proof in the Most Valuable Laker pudding.
The garnish on top, though, is how much better the Lakers have been when he’s playing. Los Angeles outscores opponents three points per 100 possessions while Lou’s on the floor, which doesn’t look all that great, but he’s the only player that’s logged over 400 minutes on the season to have a positive net rating. Their offense gets a 12.5 points per 100 possessions boost when Williams is in, while their defense improves by 9.1 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com.
That’s a significant swing, even further exemplified by the fact that the Lakers’ offense hits rock bottom when he’s not on the floor. The Lakers score just 96 points per 100 possessions when Williams is on the bench, the lowest mark on the team. That’s worse than the Philadelphia 76ers’ offensive rating (96.8), which is at the very bottom of the NBA.
Put it all together and yes, the stats check out for Kupchak. What comes next, though, is what many are wondering. The Lakers could opt to sell high on Williams while he puts up insane numbers, and Kupchak alluded to the fact that they’ll “do their job” by looking at the trade market over the next two months.
It’s hard to imagine a contender needing a scoring punch in their backcourt won’t at least test the waters on the Sweet Lou market. Considering just how valuable he’s been to the Lakers, though, it will be interesting to see if they’d rather just hold onto his $7 million per year salary through the 2017-2018 season to continue reaping the benefits.