Newsletter: Clippers! Lou Williams has quietly taken a leadership role on the team
Hi, my name is Broderick Turner, and welcome back to the Los Angeles Times’ Clippers newsletter.
The character of the man is that of a reticent person, a man of few words.
But Lou Williams has not been afraid to deliver a message to his teammates on the Clippers and they have found his voice to be forceful during his rare presentations.
Most fans only see a smooth scorer when they watch Williams, but the Clippers see a leader and take-charge player when the moment calls for him to lecture.
Admittedly, the Clippers “didn’t know” they were getting that part of the package when they acquired Williams from the Houston Rockets as a part of the Chris Paul trade.
“I didn’t know,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “You know if people are leaders or not. Half the time they are, half the time they’re not. You just don’t know. They have to get in your locker room. And he has definitely taken that role. He’s been great for all of our guys.”
In many ways, Williams is the one all the Clippers look to for guidance.
“He is a locker room guy. He is a leader for us,” Blake Griffin said. “When he speaks, everybody listens.”
It’s not surprising to hear that Williams has raised his game to new heights.
Injuries have forced Williams to be even more of an offensive threat, and he has provided for the Clippers in astounding fashion.
His 21.7 points per game, 4.8 assists, 31.3 minutes, 40.6% three-point shooting and 89.8% free-throw shooting are all career highs.
He leads all reserves in the NBA in scoring.
He has had eight games with 30 points or more off the bench this season, tying him with Thurl Bailey (1987-88 season) and Nate Robinson (2008-09) for the second-most in a single season since the 1985-86 season. Rickey Pierce holds the record with 17 during the 1989-90 season.
The league knows about those exploits, always has.
But Williams’ role of speaking up and challenging his teammates – and himself – to be better is something few know about him.
“I don’t care about that just as long as my teammates do,” Williams said. “Even if I score points, I don’t really care for the attention that comes with it. If I earn these guys’ respect, they’ll listen to whatever I have to say when I do speak to them. That means everything to me.”
Rivers told the story of a recent game in which the reserves were not holding up their end of the bargain for the Clippers.
So, Rivers said, Williams entered the locker room at halftime and ripped the second unit, letting them know that their effort was unacceptable.
“He kept using the word, ‘We,’ which I thought was very nice,” Rivers said. “So, he’s leading as well.
“The one thing I like about Lou is he’s honest. And when he says it, people listen. He doesn’t talk a lot, but when he does, they listen.”
Williams has been in the NBA for 13 seasons and has won the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award.
So Williams is now the sage veteran and the Clippers are willing to follow his lead.
All of them – young and old.
“We have a young team,” Williams said. “But at the same time, even with a veteran group, if you see something that you can correct that’s going to help us win the game, you speak up and you say it.”
In case you missed it
Clippers’ C.J. Williams is playing inspired basketball.
Clippers uncertain when Austin Rivers will return.
(All times Pacific)
Thursday vs. Oklahoma City, 7:30 p.m., TNT
Saturday vs. Golden State, 12:30 p.m.
Monday vs. Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
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