When a sports franchise is under .500, fans of the team are keen on putting their two cents in on why things aren’t running so smoothly. In particular, people will clamor about how the roles of certain reserve players should be increased. And with the way the Sixers bench has been scoring in this 2010-2011 season, calls for lineup changes are filling up the message boards, blogs and even the newspapers.
Over the past week, Lou Williams-fever in Philadelphia has reached its boiling point and rightfully so. The reserve guard’s 20-point performances and late game heroics this week against Milwaukee and Charlotte won the 76ers two ball games at home. Had these two contests gone the other way, they would have been devastating blows to this season. So Williams and his supporters probably believe they have legitimate reasons to call for more playing time recently.
On the surface of the stat sheet (18.75 ppg. & 3.2 apg. in his last 8 games), it looks like Williams is a player Philadelphia could not live without, but we here at Philadunkia have been covering this team for a while and we have yet to see Lou Williams “come through” on a consistent basis and thus warrant the minutes and shots he is currently receiving.
In our opinion, Louis is what he is — a very good 6th man who can provide significant offensive punch, but that’s it. So before the Louis Williams fever hits epidemic proportions in the City of Brotherly Love, we thought it was time for a reality check.
Using our friends from Basketball-Reference, I’ve come up with a chart to compare Williams to six other NBA guards who play in a reserve role and to be honest, the numbers don’t look good for Louis.
If you’re unfamiliar with these advanced stats, I’ve attached a key to the bottom of the article.
The instant analysis that comes from this chart is that Williams not only is the worst shooter out of the bunch, but his usage percentage (plays called specifically for him) is the most for any reserve in the League. In fact, his usage rate is 12th in the entire NBA. That’s more than anyone on the Celtics roster and more than notorious…shall I say “scorers” Vince Carter, Brandon Jennings, Danny Granger and Blake Griffin.
I’m not questioning Lou’s scoring ability. We all know he can flat out fill it up. I’m more questioning Doug Collins approach of having him play one-on-one isolation basketball as much as any superstar in basketball right now. I like having the option of Williams late in the fourth quarter of games but our insistent reliance on the 26-year-old is adding up negatively for younger players like Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks and especially Evan Turner, who was one of the best closers in recent college basketball memory.
The bottom line is that Williams is producing nowhere near the amount of win shares he should for how much he touches the ball. Elton Brand (4.6), Thaddeus Young (3.0), Jrue Holiday (2.8) and Andre Iguodala (2.7) are producing win shares not just through their scoring efforts.
And let me put into perspectivehow bad Lou Williams (.7) defensive win shares have been. Even with hundreds of more minutes than Spencer Hawes (1.1) and Andres Nocioni (.8), Williams has barely found a way to impact the game without the ball.
Last season Williams started 38 total games and his eFG percentage was .520, among the best guards in the League. But way too many times this season Williams has been given the green light and too frequently that leads to a forced or off-balance or ill advised shot. These suspect FGAs are stealing shots away from Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young, which for the Sixers is not good news. You see, when Holiday scores more than 20 points in a game, the Sixers are 5-2. On the night’s where Young scores 20 or more, Philadunkia’s home team is 4-1.
In short William’s minutes need to be trimmed back and his touches controlled. Collins needs to return Louis to a more traditional 6th man role (A role that Louis has excelled at in the past.) , because it’s time to start handing Holiday and Young the keys to the Sixers offense.
Other USG % on the Sixers. Jrue Holiday (21.9). Thad Young (20.5). Elton Brand (19.5). Andre Iguodala (18.5). Evan Turner (17).
Advanced Stat Key
EFG% – This statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal.
AST%- Assist percentage is an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while he was on the floor.
USG%- Usage percentage is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor.
OWS- Offensive Wins Shares
DWS-Defensive Win Shares
WS- Total Win Shares