Checking In With Lou Williams
SLAM speaks to the Sixer guard about the season, Andre Igoudala, Doug Collins and more.
by Brendan Bowers / @StepienRules
It’s been 11 years since the Philadelphia 76ers won at the current pace they’re winning right now. That year, Allen Iverson put Philly on his back to score just about every point himself while leading his team to the 2001 NBA Finals.
This year’s Sixers are winning differently, but they’re still winning. Lou Williams is coming off the bench to average a career-high 15.7 points per game right now, and around him there are seven other Sixers stepping up to average at least 9 points per night as well.
A collective effort that is the reason his team has posted the third best record in the Eastern Conference so far, according to Philly’s leading scorer Lou Williams.
“For us to win games we have to do it collectively,” Lou Williams told SLAMonline over the weekend. “And all our guys are stepping up and playing well to help us win right now.”
One of those guys who’s stepped up his all-around game is Andre Igoudala. While the 12.8 points he’s averaging right now is his lowest total in six years, Igoudala’s putting work in defensively every night, and contributing in a variety of ways. He’s averaging a career high 7-rebounds per game, to go along with 5 assists, and shooting over forty-percent from three-point range.
All of which is reason for Igoudala to make the first All-Star appearance of his career later this month, recognition that Lou Williams said his long-time teammate most definitely deserves.
“Before Thursday, we’ve always said we don’t have an All-Star guy, but ‘Dre’s changed that. It’s been a big year for ‘Dre,” Williams said. “It’s been a big year for us as a whole too, as a group. Everybody I think has made strides in their careers that they haven’t made before. I think ‘Dre making the first All Star team shows that, and Evan making the Rookie-Sophomore game that shows that as well.”
What also shows that is the All-Star consideration Lou Williams himself was receiving leading up to the reserves being announced last week. The seven-year pro, who spent his whole career in Philly after being selected from high school in the 2005 draft, is shooting thirty-nine percent from behind the arc and 41 percent from the field overall.
The 15.7 points he’s averaging are two more per game than he scored last season, and he’s also dishing out 4 assists and collecting 2 rebounds in 26 minutes of work per night. The type of stat line that basically reads 6th Man of the Year. An award Lou says would be cool, but not something he’s thinking about right now.
“All the individual stuff is cool to hear about and all that, but I don’t really strive for those things, I don’t really play like that”, Williams said. “I just try to play as well as I can and give us an opportunity to win. My goal is to get to the second round of the playoffs. We haven’t done that, I haven’t done that in my career, so that’s my goal right now.”
Last season Williams and his Sixers opened the year with an 11-17 record in their first 28 before eventually finishing 41-41, and losing to the Miami Heat in the first round. With a 19-9 start through these first 28, heading into Monday’s game in Charlotte, these Sixers are well on their way to getting out of that First Round this time.
Something that Coach Doug Collins deserves a lot of credit for, according to Williams.
“We have a good culture in this locker room, and I think that’s one of the things that makes us successful,” Williams added. “We’ve been together for quite a while now, and Coach Collins has came in and kept everybody honest. He keeps everybody on the same page, the communication is open, and all of that really works for us.”
It also works because third-year point guard Jrue Holiday is getting everybody involved. In addition to Williams and Igoudala, Jodie Meeks is also averaging 9.0 points per game, Evan Turner 9.2, Elton Brand 10.2, Spencer Hawes 10.5, and Thaddeus Young is at 12.5 per night.
Holiday himself is also scoring 13.9, to go along with 5 assists, and Lou Williams says the third year guard is on his way to becoming a star.
“Jrue is going to be a star in this League. It’s very early on in his process, but I think he’s going to be a star,” said Williams. “He’s going to lead this team to a lot of wins, and I’m just happy to be a part of his progress.”
As is Jrue Holiday and the rest of the Sixers happy to be part of the season Lou Williams is having too. A season that might just end with a deeper Playoff run than anybody thought possible before this year had started.