One thing that Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams has always been able to do since he made his NBA debut with the Philadelphia 76ers back in 2005 is put the basketball through the basket. Although he’s bounced around the league playing for six different teams during his lengthy career, Williams has been a scoring constant wherever he goes.
And around the NBA, game recognizes game. For the second straight year, Williams picked up the 2018-2019 NBA Kia Sixth Man of the Year award as was announced during the NBA Awards, which took place in Los Angeles. It is the third time during his career that Williams has won the award.
For someone who thought his career was pretty much in the tank after he was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Clippers in a trade that shipped guard Chris Paul out of town, winning the Sixth Man of the Year award is something special.
“It means a lot,” Williams said. “Four years ago I thought I was done. I thought I was coming to the end of the road in my career. I came to LA and I was in an environment where I felt revitalized, and I felt I had something to prove.
That last season, when I got traded from Houston to the Clippers, I reached out to some of my friends and family and basically I was like, this is my last season. I think I’m going to call it quits. So it turned into my own secret farewell party, only my close friends and family knew what my mindset was, and then coming to LA and having an opportunity to win another Sixth Man it gave me that boost. I really needed that. To get another one this year, I’m extremely honored and I look forward to the future.”
For the last two seasons, Williams’ home has been in a Clippers uniform. And with the team undergoing a facelift, Williams has been that one player Clippers fans have been able to depend on to deliver when the moment arises. In 75 games last season, all Williams did was drop 20 points off the bench per contest and helped the guide the Clippers into playoffs.
The year before, the second time that Williams claimed the honor, he averaged just over 22 points a game through 79 games. Williams joins former Clippers guard Jamal Crawford as the only NBA players to have won the award three times throughout their careers. For Williams, this trophy has a different meaning than the other two awards he earned.
“This one was different because I kind of went into the season wanting this one,” Williams said. “In years past I always just played and lived with whatever happened. I wanted this one — I felt like this one was going to be a legacy piece. If I was going to go out of the game and be considered a Sixth Man that would be my MO. I wanted to tie Jamal [Crawford], be at the top of Mount Rushmore with him. This year it was more focused on going out there and getting this one.”
This season, Williams became the NBA’s all-time leading reserve scorer and the only player in NBA history to average 20+ points in under 27 minutes per game. Williams averaged 20.0 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game. Williams, together with teammate and fellow Sixth Man of the Year nominee Montrezl Harrell became the highest scoring bench duo in a single season in NBA history.
Williams talked briefly about the chemistry that he and Harrell have built on and off the court.
“A lot of my success is due to the chemistry that he and I had,” Williams said. “We play well together; we made history together, being the highest scoring [bench] duo in history. I don’t know the last time I’ve heard of two guys on the same team being finalists, so I wanted to make sure he understood what he means to me and how much I appreciated him to be there with me.”
The NBA Kia Sixth Man of the Year award is voted on by a panel of sportswriters, editors, and broadcasters. The Clippers finished the 2018-19 season with a 48-34 record and earned the eighth seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. L.A. became the fifth team in NBA history to win at least 45 games without an All-Star.