Lakers: Lou Williams Stunting the Growth of LA’s Young Guards


Lou Williams was by far the flashiest of the Lakers free agent acquisitions.

Coming off an impressive campaign in which he earned the Sixth Man of the Year award, Sweet Lou gave the Lakers much needed credibility in the off-season. Williams has done basically what was expected, and although his shot hasn’t been falling as consistently as he’d like, he has gotten to the line often enough to put up impressive scoring numbers.

In most seasons this would be a valuable contribution to the team, but this season is very different than most for the Lakers. The goal this season should be to develop the team’s talented young trio into the stars the organization believes they can be. This goal is only going to be accomplished by allowing those young players to learn on the job. The rookies need to be allowed to experiment, make mistakes, and most importantly have the ball.

Lou Williams has proven to be a bit of an obstacle on that front, particularly the last part. When Williams is on the court the offense runs through him, often to the detriment of his partner in the backcourt. Jordan Clarkson in particular has shared the court with Williams quite often, and has seen his freedom to run the offense suffer.

D’Angelo Russell has seen Lou Williams stunt his progress in a slightly different way. For the last few games, Byron Scott has chosen to allow Williams to close games in favor of Russell. Even if one chooses to ignore the obvious fact that his strategy is failing, as the Lakers are 1-6 in large part due to late-game collapses, the strategy is still counter-intuitive.

It is important to note that Lou Williams is far from the root of this problem, and he is definitely not the only player at fault

As a very young rookie, Russell needs experience more than anything else. Experience in late-game situations is arguably even more important than playing time during the rest of the game. The fact that Byron is giving those crucial minutes to Williams should not be taken lightly, as it could have a serious impact on the Lakers long-term plans.

It is important to note that Lou Williams is far from the root of this problem, and he is definitely not the only player at fault. The issue starts with Byron Scott not formulating a game plan that puts his young players in the best position to not only succeed, but to grow. While some have made excuses for Scott, the reality is that his rotations have been very poor. He must find a way to effectively utilize Williams’ talent, while still giving Russell the minutes and touches he needs to develop.

The problem continues with Kobe Bryant, who is still dominating offensive sets when he is on the court. Williams may actually bear less of the blame than Bryant, who starts with the young trio. However, the fact that the Lakers have a player who is just as trigger-happy as Kobe in the second unit only compounds the problem.

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In the past two games, with Bryant resting, Russell has been able to play much more than previously. Wednesday night, against the Orlando Magic, D’Angelo Russell was even allowed to close out his first game of the season. Despite the loss, the Russell had a team-high 31 minutes and is finally looking like he’s finding his bearings. This should be encouraging for Los Angeles faithful.

Another thing Lou Williams also tends to do is take shots early in the shot-clock, negating potential opportunities for the young Lakers to make a play. The other issue with this is that it tends to get the rest of the squad out of rhythm, with multiple possessions going by without certain players touching the ball. For young players, a large portion of the game is rhythm and confidence, and Williams playing style does not serve them well.

The Lakers need to focus on the development of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and D’Angelo Russell, and to do that they must be allowed to control the ball. The Lakers having talented players like Lou Williams on their roster is not a bad thing, but it must not impede the progress of the Lakers true future. If the Lakers are going to fulfill their goals of developing their young players this year, Byron Scott must change his game-plan to allow them more room to grow.

Next: Minutes Key to D'Angelo Russell's Development

What do you think about Lou William’s contribution to the team? Let us know in the comments below.