Don't Blame It All On Louis Williams

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

If you've read this blog before, you know I'm not a fan of Louis Williams. In fact, you probably know I'm, what the young and averse call a Lou Williams hater (h8r). I don't like what he does on the court. I think he stalls the offense, has poor shot selection, can't play defense for squat, lies about taking gunmen to McDonalds, and raps really ba-- well, his rap game is actually awesome so I can't complain about that.

Lou, in my opinion, is what players like Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa and JJ Barea (of last year) are: good bench players to have if you're a great team, but you wouldn't want them to have a bigger role than that. The Sixers, by my estimation, are not a great team. They're an anomaly in every sense of the word because Lou has been forced to become this player and they are, until recently, winning games because of it. I'd venture so far as to say the Sixers are as rare a team as you'll see since the 2004 Detroit Pistons. That's not to say they're as good or even close, but the way they're built is such that Lou is a gigantic part of the offense and the team's success. I hate that.

But that doesn't mean it's his fault.

Lou is what he is: a high volume shooter who can score in a number of ways. "He's never seen a shot he doesn't like", etc etc. He's got a 28.7% Usage Rate, only a 45.5% eFG, and terrible shot selection. But what does he do better than anyone on the team?

Get to the foul line.

The Sixers are WORST in the league at getting to the line, due in part to Doug Collins' philosophy on limiting turnovers. Taking jump shots rather than driving the lane is a good way to limit the amount of times they turn the ball over. For that, and because of how generally good Lou and the guys are at taking care of the basketball, they have the lowest turnover rate in the NBA. Without Lou's ability to get to the line while at the same time not coughing the ball up, the Sixers would be even more lost at the foul line and, for all intents and purposes, hopeless to make any noise in the postseason.

So why does Lou seemingly take off-balance shot after off-balance shot when the clock's running down? Because that's what Collins tells him to do. If your coach tells you to take the last shot, you're not going to pass it to Tony Battie, you're going to take the last shot. And what's even more frustrating than the head-bustingly obvious playcalling is how often it works. Here's the team's numbers in the last 5 minutes of a game (4th Q or OT) within 5 points.

Screen_shot_2012-03-01_at_9

Unfortunately, over the last five games, the Sixers have been losing due in part to poor shooting throughout and especially in crunch time, so the numbers are lower than they were two weeks ago. Also, since foul shots are not included here, we can't get a handle on True Shooting percentage for all of them.

But what is clear is that Lou has been decidedly solid at the end of the game. And while I'd prefer Jrue Holiday take the brunt of the plays (for a number of reasons), Collins dials up the Boss for most of them and usually he responds well. It's ugly, it's simple, it's obvious, but it works, so I can't fault Lou for continuing to take them. I take issue with a lot of his decision-making and a lot of what the team does when the game winds down, but it's not like Lou has changed - this is who he's always been and the coaches know that.

Just as we shouldn't blame Jodie Meeks for missing a couple three's last night (he was solid the whole game offensively), we can't extrapolate one or two plays to prove our point as to why something shouldn't happen. I don't like Louis Williams. I think, in the long run, he's not setting this team up to win a championship. I'd rather see Jrue or Andre Iguodala or especially anyone who's been feeling it that game take the shot. I'd rather see Lou traded.

But unless you're only looking at field goal percentage, that doesn't mean he's been bad this season whether it's in crunch time or regular time. I wish I could say he was, but the stats don't lie. The last few weeks aside, Lou's been great.

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