The answers to your pop quiz: Player A was Lou Williams in 2007-2008, player B was Lou Williams in 2008-2009, Player C was Willie Green in 2008-2009.
OK, so it was a bit of a trick question, but there's a reason behind it. After the jump we'll talk about exactly how bad Lou has been, and I'll say something I never, ever thought I'd say.
Let me start with the shocking statement, actually, there are two of them.
- Lou Williams is doing more damage to this team than Willie Green.
- Willie Green actually deserves to be starting. (If the other option at SG is Lou)
I mean, if his play doesn't improve, won't his contract wind up being a worse idea than Willie's?
When you look at the stats, of the regulars on the team, Lou averages the most field goal attempts per 36 minutes. He takes almost 4 more shots, per 36, than Iguodala. OK, fine, someone has to take the shots, but does it have to be the guy with the 3rd-worst field goal percentage on the team? Only Royal Ivey and Reggie Evans are converting at a lower clip, and if you add their field goal attempts together they don't equal Lou's share. He's the worst three-point shooting guard (28.7%), but takes the second most per 36. (Ivey takes more, but he's hitting at 39.7%).
The only positive I can find in Lou's stats is his FTA number. He gets to the line more frequently than anyone else on the team and hits at a 78% clip. I don't think that makes up for the poor numbers in every other statistical category, though. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that he leads the team in turnovers/36 at 3.1.
There are a couple of reasons why I think Lou gets the benefit of the doubt. One, he's an unbelievable athlete. He uses his athleticism to make dazzling offensive plays and he's actually a decent defender, by most statistical measures. Two, we've seen Lou dominate games and put up big scoring numbers from time to time. His high-scoring games come with much greater frequency than Willie's. Of course, with the way he dominates the ball, it's not hard to wrack up points. Scoring them efficiently is another matter altogether.
When I was researching this post, I thought that maye Lou's play was a good indicator for team success. It would make sense. With one guy dominating possessions like he does, it would stand to reason that when he's on, the team wins. It's not true though. Lou scores less points in wins than losses, and he takes less shots. Here are the splits (stats are per 36 minutes).
Those stats tell me the team plays better when Lou dials it back a bit, but honestly, he's been putrid in the wins and the losses. What does it tell you about a player when the main statistical difference between team wins and losses is that he takes less shots in team wins?
Lou isn't a lost cause. We've seen flashes of brilliance, we've seen ocassional maturity and once in a blue moon we've seen a guy capable of running the team. Unfortunately, we've seen much more of the guy who spent his formative years watching Allen Iverson at his worst, and seems to think emulating AI is the best thing he can do for the team.
By no means is Willie good. In fact, I think he's a terrible player. But I find it much easier to stomach 13.1 shots per 36 minutes shot at a 44.5% clip than 16.2 at 39.5%. Lou's mantra through the first couple months of the season was, "I'm a scorer." That's what Mo Cheeks told him to be. Someone needs to sit him down now and tell him that he needs to add the word efficient to that mantra, otherwise his minutes are goign to get cut.
The reason I included Lou's numbers from last season was to show that he's regressed in every single category except points per 36 minutes. I'm wondering if that's the only stat he cares about, since "he's a scorer," after all.