NBA

Combo Guard Louis Williams Will Prove a Major Bargain for the Philadelphia 76ers

Louis Williams Can PlayOn Monday the Philadelphia 76ers re-signed 21-year-old Louis Williams. It’s a move that flew under a lot of casual fan’s radars, but one which should pay big dividends for the team in the coming seasons. It’s no secret that we’re supporters of this kid. We’ve talked about him in a piece about untapped potential, as one of the guys we expected big things from down the stretch and as an integral piece in the youth movement in Philadelphia.

Sweet Lou has the physical tools and basketball skills to be a a big-time scorer off the bench and it’s not hard to imagine him starting in a year or two. Given his upside, $25 million over five years will be a bargain.

Louis Williams Photo Credit: Icon SMI

General Manager Ed Stefanski is one of our favorite personnel men in the league, making a number of savvy moves since coming over from the New Jersey Nets in late 2007, and this is another shrewd decision on his résumé. The Sixers’ official site has a nice breakdown of the young man’s numbers:

“Originally the 45th overall pick by the Sixers in the 2005 NBA Draft, Williams (6-2, 175) has appeared in 171 games, averaging 7.2 points, 2.2 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game. For his career, he has shot 42.9% from the floor, 34.7% from 3-point range and 75.7% from the line.

The 21-year-old enjoyed breakout success last season, averaging career-highs in scoring (11.5 ppg), assists (3.2 apg), rebounding (2.0 rpg) and steals (1.01 spg). Williams had the fifth highest point/rebound/assist total for any player coming off the bench last season and received votes for both the Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the Year awards. He scored the fourth most points of any reserve last season, had the second-most assists, tallied the most steals and recorded the third-most free throw attempts.

After hitting a total of 14 three-pointers in his first two seasons, Williams was second on the team with 55 3-point FGM in 2007-08 while shooting a team-high 35.9% from behind-the-arc. Williams was also the Sixers second leading scorer in fourth quarters last season, with 42.3% of his season point total coming in the fourth.”

Williams is the self-proclaimed fasted man in the NBA, and he’s built a reputation on his ability to put points up in bunches. The former Naismith Prep Player of the Year possesses tremendous quicks and natural scoring ability, is electric in the open court and is going to be an 18+ PPG player just as soon as he gets 30+ minutes a night. He’s not as good on defense and around the basket, but Williams reminds me a lot of Monta Ellis in Golden State and could blow up in similar fashion.

The improving jumper is something to keep an eye on as he will likely be the best outside shooter on the Sixers again this year. They’ll desperately need that production from the perimeter: this team finished dead last in the NBA with just 3.7 three-pointers made per game. Newcomer Elton Brand will command a lot of attention in the middle and Philly needs consistent outside shooters to keep defenses honest — but by the same token Sweet Lou should get plenty of opportunities from behind the arc with Brand drawing so many doubles.

While he has been more of a scoring combo guard thus far, he may eventually be asked to man the point in the approaching post-Andre Miller era once Lou’s passing skills and basketball IQ mature. Sixers fans can tell you that those are coming along. Many outsiders don’t see a prototypical NBA point guard in Williams, and he will never be that, but let’s also not forget that while this young man famously averaged 46 points per during a three-game stretch in the D-League in 2006 he also averaged 14 assists in those games. The tools are there.

Related:
Andre Iguodala Patiently Waits to Get Paid
Freedom of 76: The Youth Movement in Philly is Showing Signs of Progress
Untapped Potential: Ten Players We Want to See on the Court More Often
Room for Improvement: Ten Players We Expect Better Things From Down the Stretch

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