No Chris Paul. No Blake Griffin. No problem. Lou Williams got this. The Los Angeles Clippers played most of the 2017-2018 NBA season without a leading man. It turns out that the Clippers really did have one in Williams, who almost took a rag-tag team of unproven rookies, developmental young players and rugged veterans to within shouting distance of making the playoffs.
The Clippers finished out of the running of making it to the postseason and came up short in claiming their sixth straight 50 plus-win season (42-40). But because of the stealth shooting and creative playmaking of Williams, who scored a career-high 22.6 points per game, the Clippers gave it one of heck of a try.
With Paul (Houston) and Griffin (Detroit) traded away to other NBA teams, and the rest of their team core (J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford) from the past moving on to other squads, the Clippers needed someone to step up their game and elevate their play.
Williams, almost single-handily, gave Clippers fans popcorn entertainment and a hope that they could make a strong push to slide into the playoffs. With many of their major athletic cogs gone, the Clippers were looked upon as a team that would compete for the cellar in the NBA Western Conference Pacific Division. Williams simply would not allow that to happen, making the Clippers a tough out just about every night.
When Williams dropped 50 points on the Golden State Warriors back in January, the shooting guard’s scoring outburst raised more than a couple of eyebrows. Then again, it should not have come as a surprise. Coming over to the Clippers as part of the trade that sent Paul to the Rockets, Williams, who has been through the rigors of 13 NBA seasons, is a reputable scorer around the league.
Putting up points is what Williams has been known for throughout his career. That’s how he makes his living in the NBA. Without having to play second or third fiddle to anyone this past season, Williams took his game up a couple of notches, blowing by his career-scoring mark of 13.7 points per game as much the same way he eases past defenders on his way to the basket.
You’d get little or no argument on this point from the Memphis Grizzlies or the Charlotte Hornets, teams he smoked for 40 points. On top of upping his scoring mark by nearly nine points, Williams surpassed his career-mark in assists (5.1, 2010-2018 to 3.1 overall), while shooting 43.5 percent from the field.
It is because of Williams’ displayed dominance all season long that the 13-year veteran earned the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award. In a runaway tally, Williams received 97 first-place votes, and a total of 495 points to win his second Sixth Man of the Year honor.
Houston’s Eric Gordon, runner-up to Williams, picked up just three first-place vote and came away with 246 points. After appearing to be a rudderless team after the Paul and Griffin trades went down, the season-ending injury to point guard Patrick Beverly, Williams immediately took up the slack and put the Clippers on the shoulders of his 6-foot-1 frame and nearly carried them to another postseason appearance.