Lou Williams is definitely out for the next five games, possibly longer. Yesterday, we talked about how his minutes might be redistributed, we talked about Evan Turner's opportunity, we talked about Antonio Daniels being signed, we talked about what the team would be missing in Lou's absence. What we didn't look at is the possible positives of life without Lou.
Before we go any further, let me state this for the record. In no way am I saying it's a good thing Lou is out. In no way am I making the case the team is better off without him. I think the Sixers desperately need Lou back, and as healthy as possible when the playoffs start for them to have any chance in the first round. What we're talking about here, is how Lou's absence could possibly have a silver lining over the next five games.
Obviously, the pie-in-the-sky dream is that Turner will take the bull by the horns and show some life in his extended minutes. Unfortunately, I'm not really holding my breath on that one, and I don't even think it's the best thing that can happen for the team in terms of getting ready for the playoffs. No, the one thing I think we need to keep an eye on is how Lou's absence affects Jrue.
The biggest drawback to Doug Collins aversion to turnovers, in my mind, has been the shorter leash he's had with Jrue this season. Honestly, no one knows what the long-term effect will be on Jrue's game, but personally, I would've liked to have seen him given a little more rope. For the most part (until recently) when Jrue and Lou were on the floor together, Lou dominated the ball. In those situations, Lou rarely set Jrue up for an open look. Jrue's role in the offense was extremely limited, and we're talking about almost 800 minutes of game time. This isn't the case when Iguodala and Jrue are on the floor together, and Iguodala is initiating. Iguodala does a good job of keeping everyone involved and setting everyone up.
I'm pretty sure you can see where I'm going with this. In Lou's absence, Jrue should get a lot more time at the helm, and maybe more importantly, he should be responsible for a lot more offense. If you look back to how Jrue rose to the occasion when Iguodala was out early in the season, I think this is a huge opportunity for him to build up a head of steam heading into the playoffs, and that would be huge for the team. Really, Jrue came out of his shell a while back, last game was his first poor shooting night in a while, and he still wracked up double-digit assists, hopefully the extra responsibility will help him continue that trend.
A huge key, especially against Boston, is going to see how Jrue holds up against a good defense, late in the game. Boston may double him, in fact, I hope they do. Every chance he gets to see how defenses will up the pressure in the next five games is a chance for him to figure it out before the stakes become unbelievably high. Life without Lou begins tonight against the Celts, let's hope Jrue can turn garbage into gold, as Zumoff would say.