The Los Angeles Clippers received Lou Williams via trade this offseason. Could he be moved again and end up on his fourth team in two years?
Kevin O’Connor wrote about why so many front offices might be interested in the 31-year-old guard (via The Ringer):
“He has already dropped more than 30 points seven times this season, proving he can still provide the type of spark that can keep his team in games … A team that could use some scoring punch off the bench, like the 76ers or Wizards, could trade for Williams and hope his playoff numbers were a result of a small sample size.”
The bench unit he leads has outscored opponents by 19 points per 100 possessions so far this season. He is an excellent free throw shooter and is one of the top scorers in the league during the fourth quarter of games.
Williams is fantastic on isolation plays and is well above average on both hand-offs and pick-and-roll plays when he is the ball-handler.
Earlier this week, we discussed a rumored trade that would send DeAndre Jordan to the Cavaliers in exchange for Isaiah Thomas. It’s worth mentioning that in a deal like that, Cleveland big man Tristan Thompson could also head to Los Angeles in exchange for Williams.
Williams would be a fascinating option for the Cavs because, unlike Thomas, he does not have to be the lead option to succeed. Last season in Boston, it was clear that Thomas thrived because he led the Celtics with 85.2 touches per game. He will not have that same luxury when playing alongside LeBron James.
Meanwhile, when he was on a playoff-bound team, Williams had just 35.2 touches per game. He made the most of his opportunities when he did have the ball, however, and led the Rockets with 0.42 points per touch.
Williams was coached by Larry Drew in 2012 on the Hawks. Drew is now the associate head coach for the Cavaliers. Cleveland’s Kyle Korver was one of his teammates on the Hawks from 2012 until 2014. Williams also played alongside Korver from 2005 until 2008 in Philadelphia.
Before the Lakers traded Williams to Houston last season, our own Alex Kennedy mentioned him as a great fit for the Cavs.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City runs an isolation play on more possessions than any team except the Houston Rockets. Among those with as many chances as the 31-year-old guard, the only players this season with more points per possession (1.25 PPP) on this play type are James Harden and Chris Paul.
If Williams landed in Oklahoma City, he’d be joining a team that already runs plays similar to what he is best at. Williams has scored more points as a pick-and-roll ball handler than Russell Westbrook. In fact, Williams ranks Top 10 among all NBA players.
On the other hand, the Thunder rank last overall in points per possession on handoffs. This is another area where Williams could provide immediate help, considering he ranks No. 3 overall (1.18 PPP) in the league among those with as many chances.
Also, OKC has the second-worst free throw percentage among all teams and Williams nearly never misses from the charity stripe.
He would help provide a scoring spark off the bench, which is arguably the biggest need for the Thunder right now. Alex Abrines and a second-round pick could be enough for the Clippers to accept.
Maurice Cheeks, an assistant coach for Oklahoma City, was Williams’ head coach in Philadelphia from 2005 until 2009.
Boston has found a nice groove and it would be an interesting decision to potentially mess that up with a significant move prior to the trade deadline.
With that said, Williams is a dynamic scorer who could make one of the NBA’s top teams an even scarier threat moving forward. This would be a classic case of the rich getting richer, as the Celtics already rank Top 10 in points per possession and effective field goal percentage for pick-and-roll plays from the ball-handler.
The front office has a huge designated player exception granted from the injury to Gordon Hayward. This could help them acquire someone like Williams, who would bolster their roster.
Al Horford was one of Williams’ teammates on the Hawks from 2012 through 2014.
Williams was drafted by the 76ers and played for the organization from 2005 through 2012. Perhaps a reunion would be best for both parties now that they are at different chapters.
Philadelphia ranks third-worst among all teams in points per possession on isolation plays. Williams would step in and help the Sixers score in one-on-one situations.
Brett Brown, their head coach, rarely calls pick-and-roll plays for the ball-handler, as only two teams have run this play type less often this season. Williams could add a new element to Philly’s offense.
They have called hand-off plays more often than all but five teams in the league, however, and this is an area where Williams has thrived. So their style would not be entirely foreign to the NBA veteran.
Amir Johnson was one of Lou’s teammates on the Raptors during the 2014-15 season. Vince Rozman (scouting innovation) and Allen Lumpkin (director of basketball administration) are both still with the franchise from when Williams previously played there.
Minnesota also ranks Bottom 5 in the NBA for points per possession when running iso plays. Williams, of course, could help create those opportunities for the Timberwolves.
They have taken 24.4 free throws per game, which ranks Top 5 in the league. Williams could have plenty of chances to continue his success at the line in Minnesota.
However, only two teams have taken fewer above the break (non-corner) three-pointers so far this season. Williams is the most accurate three-point shooter from above the break among those with at least 95 attempts. He would help the team spread the floor.
Jeff Teague, who was signed as a point guard for the team during the offseason, was one of Lou’s teammates on the Hawks from 2012 until 2014.