Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams is one of the surest buckets in NBA history.
A three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner, Williams is so skilled at scoring off the bench that the award might have to eventually be named after him. As a 15-year veteran, Williams has only averaged less than double figures in points two times — his first two seasons in the league.
Before this season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Williams was averaging 18.7 points and dishing a career-high 5.7 assists in 29.3 minutes per game.
All good scorers share traits such as shooting ability, handles, patience and consistency.
But Williams has an element to his scoring that stands out: decisiveness.
At the start of the video below, Williams did a quick jab step to the right to help him skirt past Boston Celtics wing Marcus Smart. He then took two dribbles to the left and rose for a 3-pointer.
That bucket wasn’t filled with frills and flash. Williams simply executed a quick move that got him the space he needed to make the shot.
The pick-and-roll is where Williams primarily thrives as a scorer. According to NBA.com stats, he ranks eighth in scoring for ball handlers executing pick-and-rolls.
That ability to score in the pick-and-roll is shown in the video below.
The play starts at the beginning, and it’s similar to the first video mentioned. Williams first received a pass from Landry Shamet, and then Montrezl Harrell set a high ball screen for him.
William also used a jab step to help him drive past Josh Okogie. As Williams got Okogie behind him, he quickly rose for a midrange jumper.
The simplicity and decisiveness is what’s important here. If Williams didn’t take the pick and simply backed up, he would have robbed himself of a scoring opportunity. The offense would have had to reset, and Harrell’s screen would have been pointless, especially if the possession turned bad.
But because of his smooth handle, Williams got to where he wanted and made Okogie pay for not staying in front of him.
While Williams is decisive, patience feeds into his scoring, too. For a player like Williams, who operates frequently in the pick-and-roll, being patient is key. That can be seen perfectly in the video below.
Williams couldn’t quite shake Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, one of the Los Angeles Lakers’ best perimeter defenders. Williams received a high ball screen from Harrell, though, and that helped him go where he wanted.
The initial screen got Caldwell-Pope off Williams, and then Harrell set another one that allowed Williams to burst toward the middle. With Williams keeping his dribble alive, all he had to do was pull up and shoot.
Williams’ scoring has reached a pinnacle during his time with the Clippers. During the 2017-18 season, his first with Los Angeles, he scored a career-high 22.6 points per game. He ranked 14th in the league in scoring, the only time he’s ranked in the top 20 for the category.
As one of the generation’s most talented scorers, Williams has always had a playground-like vibe to his game.
His dribble patterns, his ability to attack defenders, his ability quick decision-making — all of it contributes to Williams’ scoring prowess.