Call him “Lou Will,” “Sweet Lou,” “6 Man” — just don’t call him a flopper.
Lou Williams has been drawing fouls like few others in the NBA, but he adamantly defends himself from that label.
“I’m not a flopper,” he said during his Laker Voices chat on Wednesday. “I hate when people say I’m a flopper. I don’t flop. You never see me flying all over the floor — none of that. I barely fall down in games.”
Instead, he argues that there is a fine line between drawing fouls and diving for them. Rather than try to trick the referee into believing a nonexistent foul was committed, he tries to position himself so that an opponent will contact him.
“(With) some guys the first thing you see is their head fly back like Stone Cold Steve Austin hit them or something,” he said. “I don’t really do that. If you hit me, I’m gonna try to shoot the ball and get two free throws.”
It’s not hard to see why that flopper label has been stuck on Williams at times. Most players can’t produce his free throw numbers without a bit of acting.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year is currently 14th in the NBA in made free throws (5.2). But none of those ahead of him come off the bench or play fewer than 32 minutes per game — seven more than Williams does.
“That’s an art,” head coach Byron Scott said at Thursday’s practice. “The way he draws them is an art form. He draws more fouls from the 3-point line than I’ve ever seen anybody. I don’t know if that’s teachable.”
Thankfully for Williams, he is drawing those fouls from beyond the arc, because he hasn’t hit much else from out there. Among 97 qualified players, the first-year Laker is last in 3-point percentage (22.9).
“I’m not in a very good rhythm as far as making shots,” he said, “but I’ve been able to be effective on the offensive end by shooting seven or eight free throws in a game.”
Indeed, he has been on a steady march to the line this year. He’s made at least six free throws in five of 11 games, including his NBA season-high 16-of-19 clip at the charity stripe against Denver on Nov. 3.
That game marked him as the first reserve to come in and hit that many foul shots since Corey Maggette seven years ago.
“In the NBA they’ve taken away so much of the hand-checking and the physicality of how guys are able to guard you,” Williams said. “So if you touch me, I’m gonna throw the ball toward the rim and get shots.”
The 29-year-old is currently fourth in the league in free throws per 36 minutes (7.2), which has helped soothe his season-opening shooting slump (32.7 percent).
“He doesn’t necessarily have to shoot 45-50 percent to be effective, because he does get to the free throw line,” head coach Byron Scott said. “… He’s one of those guys that knows how to create opportunities for himself, and if he’s not shooting well he can still get numbers up for you.”
Williams looks to continue his whistle-demanding ways when his former team, Toronto, visits Staples Center on Friday. And his old coach knows what the Raptors are in for.
“He’s so good and crafty about it that he gets you to compromise and you reach,” Dwane Casey said before L.A. and Toronto’s preseason game on Oct. 8. “And he’s got a supreme timing of getting the shot up while you’re reaching for the ball. So we’ve got to be smart with it and understand what he’s trying to do to us.”