The Los Angeles Lakers faced a crushing eight-game stretch, coming away with zero victories and many injuries. Head coach Luke Walton was given a depleted roster, in an attempt to win games, while keeping the chemistry in tact that had them off to a hot start.
While D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jose Calderon, Tarik Black and Nick Young battled through their own respective injuries, the rest of the roster had to compete at the NBA level at a clear disadvantage. During this stretch, one key player has stood out and made his presence felt.
Lou Williams has emerged from his bench role as the leading scorer for the Lakers. While being undermanned, Williams turned into the fourth quarter threat the Lakers needed in close games, while supplying consistent scoring throughout the entire game.
The sixth man extraordinaire has received praise from around the league for his play, but the eight-game losing streak has put a damper on the production the 12-year veteran has put forth. ESPN’s Marc Stein began making projections towards the Sixth Man of the Year award, displaying a list of people he deemed worthy.
Although the Lakers have lost eight consecutive games, Stein gave credit to Williams for his production and put him at the top of his rankings:
For now, though, in our eyes, Williams is first among sixth men.
He recently ran up a spree of 137 points over a four-game stretch, which, according to Elias Sports Bureau research, had never been done since the league began recording starts and non-starts in the 1970-71 season.
Now in his 12th season, Williams is averaging a career-high 19.2 points per game. The 30-year-old seems to be molding into a Jamal Crawford-type player, who is producing more as he ages.
Williams became the first Lakers’ player since Kobe Bryant to have at least 38 points in consecutive games, as his knack for drawing fouls has turned into a routine free throw exercise. His case for the award is tampered by the Lakers’ status, as they are currently projected to finish with roughly 30 victories.
While explaining his rankings, Stein also threw out Eric Gordon, Wilson Chandler and Zach Randolph as other fixtures in the race. However, William’s 19.2 points per game are coming in just 25.1 minutes per game.
As Stein stated in the article, Williams has the opportunity to become the first player to lead the team in scoring off the bench since the 2011-12 season when the Philadelphia 76ers were led in scoring by a young guard by the name of Lou Williams.
General manager Mitch Kupchak recently stated that Williams has been the Lakers’ MVP thus far this season. Although Williams would much rather be winning than scoring, his offensive aggression is surely a welcomed sight during this difficult stretch for the Lakers.