Lakers Add Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams

The Lakers' scoring arsenal now features an award-winning offensive catalyst in reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams. Arguably the top bench player in the NBA last season, Williams averaged a career-high 15.5 points for Toronto, which also ranked third among reserves.

Last year Williams — who was introduced at the Lakers practice facility on Wednesday — shined among his fellow Raptors and bench players, as he knocked down a team-best 1.9 3-pointers per game, which also tied for the second-most of any reserve, behind new Lakers teammate Nick Young (2.0).

In addition to Young, Williams will be joining a roster featuring fellow scoring guards Kobe Bryant, Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell. As a 10-year veteran, Williams looks to provide the latter two with the guidance that he received as a 19-year-old rookie with Philadelphia in 2005.

“I had the opportunity to play alongside Allen Iverson and Kevin Ollie at the same time,” Williams said. “I kind of had the best of both worlds. I had one guy that was super talented and another guy that came with his lunch pail every day and that was a worker. I want to kind of be a mix of both.”

The road to the Sixth Man of the Year award was a long one for Williams, who was voted the runner-up in 2012 while with the 76ers. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL the very next year while with Atlanta.

Since that injury, however, Williams has cemented himself as one of the league’s top scoring sparks. In particular, the 28-year-old has shown off his ability to produce in one-on-one situations, as he ranked fourth in the NBA last season in total isolation points (263), behind James Harden (583), LeBron James (424) and Kyrie Irving (265).

“I was a little slower, but I had to get smarter,” Williams said about recovering from his ACL tear. “I was catching the ball closer to the rim. I’ve always been a guy to try to create contact; create scoring opportunities based off the free throw line and being aggressive in that way. I became a better jump-shot shooter and a better 3-point shooter. … Just evolved my game in being smarter.”

Williams is also adept at getting to — and cashing in at — the free throw line. He hit the second-most free throws among reserves (4.3) and led Toronto in percentage at the charity stripe (86.1).

But perhaps his most underrated skill is Williams’ elite ability to operate out of pick-and-rolls. No player averaged more points per play as the pick-and-roll ballhandler than Williams (1.03).

While Chris Paul and Stephen Curry clocked in at a tie for second (0.97), Williams — thanks to his knack for hitting floaters and pull-ups, while also drawing fouls — was the only one to even average one point per play.

Likewise, Williams’ passing skills have also been undervalued due to his reputation as a scorer. In his one season with Toronto, Williams averaged only 2.1 assists, but he handed out 3.0 or more in each of his prior seven seasons, including in 2009-10 when he dished 4.2 per contest.

“I think my assist numbers dropped off in Toronto with the way we were built,” Williams said. “We played a lot of isolation basketball. I know we were in the bottom half in the NBA as far as assists go. I’ve always been a guy that’s just prided myself on making plays. Two points are two points. I never really cared whether they were mine or somebody else’s.”