We continue our series titled “School’s Out for Summer” where we hand out final grades to the players on the 2008-09 Philadelphia 76ers based on their regular season and post season production this year, as well as a few other factors. Receiving his grade today is the 76ers rising young student Louis Williams.
There’s no doubt that Williams was key for the Sixers as an offensive weapon off the bench this season. Basically he took on the role of legendary Detroit Pistons 6thman Vinny “The Microwave” Johnson for the 2008-09 Sixers and he filled the role nicely (12.8 ppg.). He frequently presented match up issues for opponents as his quickness is absolutely lethal and allows him to blow past 90% of the defenders he faces. Williams really grew offensively this season and showed the ability to get buckets and get them in a hurry whenever the Sixers needed it. With his great ability to get to this tin and his decent jump shot, he truly became a legitimate threat for Philly that other teams had to account for on a nightly basis as you can see by his 23.3 ppg. average when projected over 48 minutes of play. Williams also showed signs this year that he could be a half-decent point guard if he is given the time to grow into that job. We’re not as convinced as many within the Sixers organization that he can be an everyday point man in the League, but he did show flashes of the skills it takes to be a lead guard. However one thing that plagued Williams this year was his shot selection. Williams frequently jacked up ill advised, off balance or just flat out ridiculous shots. Williams’ habit of forcing shots was a source of much frustration for DiLeo and Sixers fans alike and it’s an issue that we feel needs vast improvement if Williams is to be converted to a full time PG. In addition to his shot selection, Williams must also find a cure for the streakiness of his jumper. When he’s on, look out because Williams can be electric. However on his off-nights Williams would be eligible to join the local brick-layers union and that’s why he hits at 39% from the field and 28% from deep. Certainly better shot selection would help Williams improve his shooting percentages, but other then that we can not put our finger of why Williams is so inconsistent with the J. His form is solid, he’s not afraid to put the ball up, he knows how to get open and he is a very good at the free throw line — those are typically traits of an excellent outside shooter, but for Williams it doesn’t always work out that way. Hopefully he finds the answers in the gym this summer. Until then his shot selection woes and streakiness cost him any chance at getting an A. So for 2008-09 Williams receives a B+ on offense.
Williams will never have to worry about being the teacher’s pet as long as he continues to have the defensive issues in his game that he exhibited this year. First let’s look at the good defensive elements that Williams brings to the table. His quickness allows him to pick off ill advised passes and to occasionally swipe the ball from an offensive player who has gotten careless with the rock. Williams also has a knack for coming up with loose or 50/50 balls, but again a lot of that comes from his quickness. Finally, Williams is decent at doubling down on the post and digging the pill out from opposing big men. However, there are a number of serious holes in Williams’ defensive game that caused the Sixers headaches this season. Williams has a tendency to gamble too much on D, he is often slow to recognize his rotations with in the Sixers defensive schemes and he is an average (at best) on-ball defender. Also at 6-2 and 175 pounds (Not a chance Sweet Lou weighs 175 by the way.) Williams gets pushed around a lot by opposing guards and is susceptible to being posted up by bigger guards. Nothing but hard work and dedication will cure these defensive ills, so let’s hope that Williams cares enough to get better on defense. For his numerous defensive problems, Williams gets a grade of C+ at the end of the floor that as the experts say “wins championships”.
Williams holds his own in this category. # 23 played in 81 games this season, so he was durable and frequently played through injuries. From what we witnessed, Williams played with passion and high energy, two important items for a 6th man to bring to the floor. Williams also seemed to have a flair for the dramatic play this season; plays that either got the crowd into home games or gave his team an emotional lift on the road which is a nice bonus. All indications are that Williams is a very good teammate as well and is supportive of the guys on the floor. The one knock we have on Williams in this category is that he doesn’t always make smart basketball decisions. On both offense and defense his mistakes appear to be mental lapses more then physical shortcomings and that’s why we hit him with an A- in this category.
Williams was very clutch in his own specific way for the 76ers this season. DiLeo and staff gave Williams a specific job this season, come off the bench and provide instant offense for the team and few and far between were the nights that Williams did not accomplish just what the coaches asked of him. In addition to doing his job and doing it well, Williams was also not afraid to take and hit big shots in 2008-09. However the Sixers coaches seem hesitant to call Williams number at clutch time, so because the Sixersdon’t seem confident in getting him the ball with the clock winding down, we drop Louis to a B+.
Final Average: B
Overall Williams had a very solid year in 2008-09 and he seems to have found a nice fit with this franchise. Still right now his game has issues on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball that kept him from getting an A for the year. But we understand that Williams is a gym rat in the off season, so we anticipate he’ll improve on his weaknesses this summer and we look forward to seeing how his game develops over the next several years.