In what is arguably been the best season of Lou Williams’ career, the scoring sixth-man’s play has led to a weird (albeit justified) season-long debate on whether he helps the Los Angeles Lakers on social media and elsewhere.
The 30-year old guard is averaging a career-and-team-high 18.3 points per game on a career-high 60.4 true-shooting percentage. No matter how you measure it, he’s been one of the Lakers’ most productive players this season.
In a vacuum teams would want their best players to play no matter what, but the NBA doesn’t exist devoid of context. His aforementioned age means Williams likely won’t be a member of the next great Lakers team, and he’s using a career-and-team-high 29.9 percent of the Lakers’ possessions while on the floor.
This has led many fans to get frustrated that more of Williams’ opportunities aren’t being redistributed to the younger members of the team to give them more chances to grow, and while answering questions on Twitter after the Lakers’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Williams responded to that sentiment:
They play 30 plus minutes a night. What does that have to with me? I'm just their sub. A back up dancer https://t.co/hG59ChZVp3— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) February 11, 2017
Last to come in the game off the bench. And 4th in attempts on team. Y'all gotta start watching lol https://t.co/GtYlqyXk7i— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) February 11, 2017
Williams did take the fourth-most shot attempts on the Lakers on Friday, but on the year his 12.5 per game are second by a hair behind only D’Angelo Russell (12.6). His large role has (at times) helped the Lakers avoid losses, which is a sore spot for some others who would rather the team rack up defeats so they can potentially keep their top-three protected first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
It’s safe to say it’s not a concern Williams shares:
The thing about draft picks fans forget. That's somebody's job he'll take. Ain't nobody playing for a pick lol. Trying get W's https://t.co/Qun6TQ8uB7— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) February 11, 2017
Credit Williams for being candid about a real factor here, and something some fans don’t understand about tanking: front offices set teams up to tank, players and coaching staffs don’t intentionally lose games (in nearly all but the most egregious cases). No professional athlete enjoys losing, and expecting Williams or any other member of the Lakers to lie down is a fool’s errand.
It wasn’t just his deeper thoughts basketball philosophy Williams was interested in giving fans a window into. He also shared his favorite nicknames for Lakers rookie big man Ivica Zubac:
And gave us a necessary update on what Metta World Peace is up to:
Whether Williams ends up getting sent out at the trade deadline (as has been speculated about nonstop this season) or not, his window into what it’s like to be a professional athlete with more micro concerns than the development of youth or acquiring draft picks was certainly interesting.