In basketball, there has always been an emphasis on understanding one’s role on the team. While other team sports, like football, use the specific position names to designate roles; basketball is a bit more complicated. While offensive lineman in the NFL know they are solely there to block and protect the QB, a center in basketball might lead his team in rebounds and blocks one night, then become a playmaker and get steals the very next game.
In the NBA, assigning roles is more focused on the skills of the individual players. Players that can use their skills to dominate the game are considered the star players, and are primarily used as the focal point of the team. Then there are players that have unique skill sets that are used by the coach to compliment a specific need for the team. And there are a multitude of role players on a team- each with a job that is vital for overall success. However, it is incredibly rare for the “role” player of the team to also be considered as the teams “star” player. Yet for the LA clippers, the guy that has been doing everything for their team has been their 6th man Lou Williams.
It is important to note that the role of a 6th man is to be someone that provides a spark for their team off the bench, and is typically their 1st player subbed into each game. It is an important role for all teams to have, because the 6th man ensures that the team does not falter when the second unit enters the contest. Despite its importance, some players envy this role and for others, they consider the role of 6th man as a form of disrespect.
While many players do everything they can to avoid this role, Lou Williams has embraced the job in LA. While it is obvious that he has the talent to start for the Clippers, and perhaps most teams in the NBA, he understands that in order for this team to win, he needs to stay on the bench to support the second unit. This was evident last week as the Clippers played a slate of tough opponents.
The first game they played was against the Boston Celtics. In this game Lou Williams put out an offensive clinic scoring 34 points on 70% shooting. The Celtics simply had no answer for Sweet Lou, as he was able to score 13 points in the fourth quarter- essentially icing the game. While the Celtics played great defense, Williams’ ability to make difficult shots proved too much for Boston. Williams passed Dell Curry for the NBA all-time scoring record for points off the bench. This is a testament to not only Lou’s offensive abilities, but also his overall impact on the game.
The next game the Clippers played was against the Portland Trailblazers. While the Clippers did end up losing, it showed the importance Lou Williams has on this team. Despite scoring 18 points, Lou did this with a 31% shooting percentage and attempted 0 three pointers. This demonstrates the importance that Lou has in this team, as they need him to play well every night in order to win.
The next game they played was against the Chicago Bulls, where Lou scored 21 points and netted his first career triple double (10 assists and 10 rebounds). According to ESPN Stats & Info, Lou played the 2nd most games before achieving his first triple double (903 games played). Zach Randolph did it in his 973rd career game nearly 3 years ago to the day.
The last game he played was against the Brooklyn Nets. In this game not only did Lou put up 25 points with 50% shooting, but he also made the game winning three as time expired. It showed Lou’s incredible skills in the clutch (where he leads all players in offensive efficiency) and that he can be the go-to guy as the Clippers prepare for a potential playoff berth. Through his play this last week, Lou William shows that he is not just a “bench” player. He is the soul of this LA team and through his incredible play all season, has helped secure an 8t seed for the “other” team that plays at Staples Center.