Feb 27, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Lou Williams (12) dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Rockets added offensive-minded Lou Williams last week, making the Rockets offense even more potent heading down the final stretch of the season.
There is no denying that the Houston Rockets offense is among the best in the NBA. But adding veteran Lou Williams off the bench may have just sent their offense into outer space.
Williams is having a career year and was leading the Los Angeles Lakers with 18.6 points per game. The Rockets decided to part ways with Corey Brewer and a first-round pick in order to get Williams prior to the deadline, which could prove vital for the Rockets moving forward.
He fit right in last night to the up-tempo, fire-at-will offense that first-year head coach Mike D’Antoni has implemented in H-Town. He came off the bench for the Rockets and led the team in scoring with 27 points against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night.
This is just a glimpse of what Williams has to offer for the Rockets. He will prove to be a valuable asset for Houston down the stretch. If he and veteran guard Eric Gordon can find a rhythm together coming off the bench, the Rockets might have an unstoppable rotation for the playoffs.
Feb 27, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Lou Williams (12) shoots the ball during the second quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Lou Williams has always been a score-first, pass-second type of guard and has been very consistent in his 12-year career. He has come off the bench for the majority of his career, but has always been the spark that teams have needed.
In four games with the Rockets, Williams is averaging 19.3 points a game. He is yet again coming off the bench, but lifting the second unit’s offensive prowess to another level.
He is a playmaker that fits right in with the up-tempo offense in Houston. He and James Harden are unique talents that have a knack for scoring and making plays every time the rock is in their hands.
Williams is a guy that can really make you scratch your head about shot selection at times throughout a game. On the flip side, he can wow you with his ability to knock down big shots at big moments throughout a game.
He has already made an immediate impact in Houston In his first game, he knocked down seven three-pointers on his way to a 27-point outing. There’s no denying his ability to put the ball in the bucket and that’s a pleasant sight for fans of the Rockets.
With his immediate offense and “let it fly” mentality, the Rockets have loaded up on guards this season, currently having five of the top-20 three point shooters in the game. Williams is currently 16th in the league in three-pointers made at 137 on the season.
Second to only Stephen Curry (233), Harden is right behind him at 197, Eric Gordon is third on the list with 196, Ryan Anderson is seventh with 167 and Trevor Ariza is tied for 10th on the list with 154. It’s safe to say that Williams’ immediate offense is welcomed in Houston.
Feb 27, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Lou Williams (12) is fouled by Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Depth At The Wing
Williams provided some not only depth at the wing, but scoring at the wing, which is something that veteran small forward Corey Brewer could never really provide.
He is able to give the Rockets some consistency from the second unit. His veteran status already warrants respect and even more so with his consistency throughout his 12 years.
Williams’ 18.6 points per game rank him first in scoring among bench players, but more importantly gives the Rockets much-needed offensive firepower to complement Harden.
Williams is a unique talent because in most systems, these numbers would warrant a starter’s role but Williams has accepted his role as a bench player and really elevates any team’s bench. He has always provided depth in any offense he gets inserted into.
The Rockets were guard-heavy to begin with, but lacking scoring, and that’s the role that Williams is filling. He has already made an impact for the Rockets, averaging 19.3 points per game in just four games.
Moving forward, Williams needs to be consistent if the Rockets want any chance of knocking off powerhouses in the Western Conference like the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs.
When diving into the second unit during the playoffs, depth has separated the successful teams from the not-so-successful teams.
The Rockets are poised to be said successful team with a couple months left in the season.
November 18, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Louis Williams (23) moves in to score a basket past San Antonio Spurs forward David Lee (10) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Scoring Just In Time For The Playoffs
As if the Rockets needed any more offensive threats, Williams is just adding fuel to the already scorching flame that’s flaming in Houston.
The Rockets are second only behind the Golden State Warriors (118.1) in points per game at 115.1 per outing. Williams fits right in with the “jack up threes every time down the court” type offense.
He does it with efficiency as well, not just jacking up shots, but knocking down shots, which is far more important. Williams has shot 40 percent or better from the floor in all but one of his seasons in the association, and has hovered around 35 percent from behind the arc for his career.
The Rockets are definitely not known from their defense, though surprisingly better than most would have thought this year. So what’s the solution for poor defense? Potent offense.
Houston is near the bottom in opponents points per game, sacrificing 108.3 per game. But again, that’s not a huge issue when you’re scoring 115.1 every time you grace the hardwood.
Williams does nothing but help in Houston. He is the missing piece off the bench the Rockets have been seeking.
With his scoring ability and more importantly, simple playmaking ability, he is the guy that could prove vital and one of the most important trade acquisitions the Rockets have made in recent memory.
The Rockets have all the tools to score in bunches and with the playoffs in sight, Williams provides an extra bit of oomph that never hurts.
Feb 23, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (center) talks with guard Lou Williams (12) and center Clint Capela (15) and guard Eric Gordon (10) in the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. The Rockets won 129-99. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Potential 1-2 Punch
The story surround the Houston Rockets has been the MVP-type season that James Harden is having. It’s rare that Houston is mentioned without wind of Harden in the same sentence, and deservedly so.
Harden has been nothing short of spectacular on his way to what seems like an all-but-done MVP trophy ceremony speech. Averaging 28.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and a league-leading 11.3 assists per game, Harden is having a career year and, boy, have the Rockets relied upon him.
The superstar has lacked a sidekick, if you will. The Dwight Howard addition was supposed to solve all of Houston’s problem, but proved nothing short of a disaster. Since parting ways with Howard in the offseason, the Rockets were seeking someone to complement The Beard.
Lou Williams has a chance to be the yang to Harden’s yin. It’s hard to think that a potential 1-2 punch could come off the bench, but averaging 18-plus points a game, it’s also not so hard to think about.
The amount of attention that Harden demands when he’s on the hardwood can free up a number of open shots and driving lanes for Williams. Averaging close to 50 points a game just between those two, defenses are almost in a pick-your-poison situation when facing the Rockets.
Williams has had a seamless introduction in H-Town and doesn’t mind the attention that Harden warrants. He and Harden have meshed so far this season and they’re just getting started. They have the potential to be an offensively potent backcourt.
Feb 25, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Lou Williams (12) drives against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Gorgui Dieng (5) in the second half at Toyota Center. Houston Rockets won 142 to 130. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Provides Rest For Harden
Williams’ value will prove to be even more important than originally thought if he can continue to score in bunches off the bench for the Rockets. The reason for his value? Rest.
He has the scoring ability to carry the load on the offensive side of the ball when Harden needs rest. Harden might be able to sit out entire quarters at a time with Williams on the floor, and everyone knows how important rest is entering the playoffs.
Williams has been on the floor during crucial times of games throughout his entire career and the Rockets will need that offensive output if Harden is not on the floor. It seems like head coach Mike D’Antoni already trusts Williams with the ball in his hands which is a positive sign moving forward.
With the second unit coming in, a lot of the time you see a drop off. Not necessarily a massive dip in scoring or defense but a dip nonetheless. When Harden has been subbed out in previous years, the Rockets have had to look to Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley for scoring.
This year is completely different.
With the additions of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson, the offensive firepower hasn’t seen a huge hit when Harden is not on the floor. Adding Williams is a whole new ball game, though. He’s the bench spark that the Rockets have been looking for.
Williams can play the point guard position if needed but is primarily an off the ball type scorer. With his ability to run the pick and roll and score at will, Harden may be seeing more and more of the bench, providing rest for when the Rockets really need him.