Los Angeles Lakers: Lou Williams’ Sizzling Start

The Los Angeles Lakers have had one of the most surprising starts to the season.  Although it’s been a complete team effort, Lou Williams has been central to their success so far.

We’re only two weeks into the regular season but one of the biggest surprises so far has been the Los Angeles Lakers.

At 4-4, the Lakers have already raised plenty of eyebrows, mainly due to their impressive victories over the Atlanta Hawks and the Golden State Warriors.

While most of their new roster additions have had mixed success so far, the addition of Luke Walton as the team’s head coach has been a key reason why the Lakers have started off on the right foot.

Yes, it’s still early, but there’s no bigger sign the effect Walton has had on the young squad than when looking at their vastly improved offense.

After ranking as the second-worst offense last year under former head coach Byron Scott, the offense under Walton has come firing out of the gates, jumping to 14th in offensive efficiency around the league, per NBA.com/stats.

Although the defense is still a work in progress, it’s been improved as well as it ranks 21st in the NBA so far this season, already up from last place last year.

Through Walton’s arrival, many of the holdovers for the Lakers have had rejuvenating starts in the opening weeks of the season.  Although a few may stand out more than others, a player that has really benefited well to the coaching change has been Lou Williams.

In his 11th year in the league, Williams is a well known commodity at this point.

The former sixth man of the year’s penchant for bringing instant offense off the bench has made him one of the league’s premier bench scorers for many years at this point.

Arriving via free agency during last year’s offseason, Williams was as effective as he’s ever been throughout his career.  But the problem was that Williams’ steady scoring largely went unnoticed playing for a horrific Lakers team.

This year, Williams has been quick to maintain his ever consistent production to start the season.

In 23.3 minutes per game, Williams is averaging 15.3 points and 4.0 assists per game with a true shooting percentage of 58.4 percent, the same percentage he finished with last year (small sample size alert, I know).

However, what has changed for Williams with Walton now in charge is how Williams’ presence, both on and off the floor, has affected the team as a whole.

Of the regular rotation players for the Lakers, Williams has the highest net rating (11.1 points per 100 possessions) highest effective field goal percentage (53.5 percent) and true shooting percentage (57.1 percent) when he’s on the floor.

All three of those numbers change for the Lakers when Williams is off the floor as he has the biggest drop off in net rating (minus-10.8 points per 100 possessions), effective field goal percentage (49.2 percent) and true shooting percentage (54.2 percent) of the entire team.

Primarily playing as part of the highest performing bench unit in the league certainly has some effect on Williams’ on/off numbers and of course, the Lakers are only just eight games into the year.

Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see how vital Williams is for the Lakers just this far into the season, especially in a reserve role as well.

Whether this is a trend or not for Williams as well as the entire team obviously remains to be seen.

Considering the circumstances of a new coach being in place along with the team’s most prominent players lacking many years of experience in the league, it’s almost a given that rough patches will be in store for the Lakers at some point in the season.

With that said, the early returns for the Lakers have been very promising and it shouldn’t go unnoticed how big a part Williams has been for them at this point.

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