The Rockets acquired Lou Williams from the Lakers at the trade deadline in February in exchange for Corey Brewer and a first-round pick, and it was immediately hailed by most as another example of GM Daryl Morey’s genius.
At the time, Sweet Lou was in the midst of a fine season and was hailed as one of the top contenders for the Sixth Man of the Year award, along with Rocket Eric Gordon. And at least initially, it appeared Williams would pick right back up in Houston where he left off in Los Angeles.
In his first three games with the Rockets, Williams scored 27, 17 and 28 points, respectively, and he freewheeling style seemed like a perfect fit for Mike D’Antoni’s run and gun offense. But unfortunately for the Rockets, that initial three-game stretch was essentially Lou’s high-water mark in Rockets red.
He struggled mightily with consistency for the rest of the regular season, and he just never looked truly comfortable at any point. He often appeared to press matters a little too much, and even though that occasionally resulted in an offensive outburst — a 30-point game against his old L.A. squad and 31-point affair against the Thunder come immediately to mind — the cumulative results of his time with the Rockets were uneven at best.
With Houston, Williams went for 14.9 points, 3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and slightly less than a steal per game. Those look like pretty serviceable stats for your seventh man in the rotation. That is until you notice he also shot just 38.6 percent from the field and only 31.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Then you notice that every single one of his counting stats save rebounds and all of his percentages went down after the trade. With the Lakers, Williams averaged 18.6 points per game, 2.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steal. He shot a much more respectable 44.4 percent from the field and a deadly 38.5 percent from three.
He also was a negative offensive (and defensive) player with the Rockets, and we all know Sweet Lou was never and will never be a top defender. So if he’s not impacting positively offensively, he’s not doing much.
As a comparison, his offensive plus-minus while in L.A. was +5.4, good enough that he still finished second in the NBA for shooting guards in overall plus minus, despite the -0.1 offensive number he put up in H-Town. The slippage with the Rockets was real. And he was playing more minutes in Houston too, so he had every opportunity to gel.
Williams exhibited that same inconsistency in the postseason as well. He was fantastic in the Rockets’ first-round series with the Thunder, and the OKC bench had no answer for him. He averaged 18.8 points per game in the series and shot 47.7 percent from the field and a scorching 41 percent from deep. He was one of the real difference makers in the Houston win.
But it was a different story entirely against the San Antonio Spurs, when Williams was nowhere to be found. He averaged just 7.3 points per game, and he percentages were just as atrocious. He shot 41.8 percent overall, and just 3-17 from beyond the arc.
There were many reasons the Rockets fell to San Antonio — the 7-man rotation, the Game 6 meltdown, etc... — but you can put Williams’ play off the bench in that same category as well.
Williams is under contract through next season at an extremely palatable $7 million, so with the Rockets looking to compete again next year, expect Williams to get every opportunity to find his groove in Houston.
But should he come out next year showing the same inconsistencies, that’s an extremely tradable contract that Daryl Morey would have zero trouble moving.