From watching the games, I knew Lou Williams was off to a very good start on the offensive end. None of my fears coming into the season about handing him the reins as a starting PG have come true, not in the slightest. Today, I took at look at individual stats and I think I need to point out exactly how unbelievably good Lou has been.
This post has a big "if you don't write it now, you'll never get the chance again," feel to it, but I just wanted to share the numbers and some perspective with you guys.
First, look at Lou's shooting percentages (career numbers in parens):
- FG%: 63.6% (41.9%)
- 3P%: 50% (31.8%)
- FT%: 84.2% (77.5%)
I started with the percentages because they're startling, but obviously impossible to sustain. All they really tell us is that he's shooting the lights out, and hopefully he's worked hard on his jumper. The shooting percentages are impressive, but the numbers that I find the most meaningful have more to do with how he's changed his game completely in his new role.
Williams has gone from a gunner to a smart player. A guy who's careless with the ball, to a guy who makes the right decisions. A guy who only cares about getting his own, to a guy who makes everyone on the floor with him better.
Earlier today I provided a primer on advanced stats, and in that primer I laid out what offensive rating is for a team (points per 100 possessions). Well, offensive rating is also a stat that's applied to players, points per 100 possessions with the player on the floor. Lou Williams is leading the league through the first three games in this stat with an unfathomable 154 OFR. Again, unsustainable, but the important part is that he's doing this is a supplementary player.
Three stats encourage me that Lou has completely changed his game, again last year's numbers in parens:
- FGA per 36 minutes: 11.2 (14.4)
- Assists per turnover: 7.5 (1.97)
- Usage rate: 18.7% (24.9%)
- Rebounds per 36 minutes: 5.1 (2.6)
Less dribbling, smarter decisions, efficient scoring, contributions on the boards. Williams is doing exactly what he said he was going to do all summer long. Whatever it takes to help this team win.
Lou won't be able to keep these numbers up, but if he can continue the trend from an "instant offense" volume shooter to a team player who picks and chooses his moments, and contributes across the board, we could be talking about a monumental leap forward for the 23 year-old. We could also be talking about one of the most dynamic back courts in the league, with two grotesque mismatches on the offensive side of the ball. Continue down this path, and that long contract they signed him to last season is going to look like a bargain (or an insanely valuable trade chip.)
You will notice, however, that I didn't type the "d" word once in this post, mainly because today is going to be a positive Monday.
Thoughts in the comments.