There has been a steady if not dramatic improvement in Lou Williams’ level of play since he arrived in Toronto. Known for his instant offense off the bench over his nine seasons in the NBA, Williams has been surprisingly effective on defense and he is earning Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey’s respect as a result.
“Most of all I’m impressed with Lou (Williams) defense,” Casey said. “He has a reputation of being a scorer, but now he’s doing a much better job defensively for us which allows him to stay in and guard guys like Waiters and Irving and people like that.”
Over the past four games, Williams has averaged 21 points, shot 50 percent from three-point range and pulled in a total of 8 steals. He has been effective on defense against a range of players and seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time at both ends of the court.
“I always play with energy,” Williams said. “When you are playing out there, you are just trying to make positive plays and we have some very good schemes here and we are supposed to be in certain spots on the court. Certain plays – we do scout these guys – and I was just able to make plays.”
The Raptors schemes seem to be tailor made to Williams’ style of play. Last year it was Greivis Vasquez coming in to play beside Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan with defenses being forced to use single coverage or even hedge off of Vasquez to stop the Raptors two top scorers. However, Vasquez is a pass-first point guard and defenses made him become a scorer. Williams is a scorer and he is thriving in that role with most of the attention on Toronto’s other two guards.
Williams’ success putting the ball in the basket isn’t exactly a surprise. What wasn’t expected is just how fast Williams has adapted to Casey’s defensive schemes. No one expected Williams to provide a defensive presence, but the guard is consistently in the right place at the right time to come away with the ball on defense without taking big risks. He’s been solid on defense.
Against the Cavaliers, Williams netted a career-high 36 points, played a season-high 29 minutes and he picked off three steals. Casey had to leave him in the game against Cleveland and as Williams gets even more comfortable in Toronto, it’s only going to get harder to take him off the court.
There was nothing the Cleveland Cavaliers could do to stop sweet Lou Williams from revving up the hundreds of Toronto Raptors fans that had invaded Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night to watch their NBA Eastern Conference leading Raptors totally and utterly dominate LeBron James and company.
“(My role is) to just come off the bench and bring a ton of energy and score the basketball,” Williams said. “(Provide) leadership, experience, in Philadelphia we had some pretty good runs. We were two possessions away from being in the Eastern Conference Finals when we had barely even made the playoffs, so I’ve been on teams that have started from the bottom and created some great opportunities for themselves and I think that is what I bring to the table.”