Lou Williams: one of the most underpaid players in recent history

According to Statista, in 2019, the average NBA player made around eight million dollars. That same year, Lou Williams captured his third sixth man of the year award, solidifying him as one of the best sixth men of all time. He made a measly seven million dollars in 2019.

Throughout his 16-year career, Lou has gotten his flowers by coming off the bench and serving as a microwave player. He has found comfort in playing around 20 minutes per game and taking around 15 shots, so when his coach calls his number, they know he will provide instant offense for their team. Perhaps his most memorable performance came during that 2019 season when he was underpaid on a seven-million dollar contract. It was Game 2 of the first-round playoff series between the eight seed Clippers and the one seed Warriors. At most, the Clippers were seen as a tiny speed bump in the Warrior’s path to another championship. Nonetheless, the Clipper’s pick-and-roll action with Lou Williams and Montrez Harrell was a thorn in the Warrior’s side. The Clippers got out to a shaky start and found themselves down by 31 points with seven minutes left in the third quarter. To anyone other than Lou Williams and the Clippers, the lead had to seem insurmountable. Not only would the Clippers have to run enough offensive sets to outscore the Warriors, but they would also have to hold Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant in check. While chipping away at the lead, Lou Williams didn’t just flash 15 minutes of brilliance off the bench. Instead, during his 32 minutes off the bench, he torched the Warriors with a 39-point and 11-assist performance to bring his team off of its heels. This historic comeback tied the series up at one game apiece; a series once thought of as a warmup for the Warriors turned into a legitimate battle. 

In more recent news, Lou Williams was the beneficiary of a bone bruise that sidelined up-and-coming superstar, Trae Young. Beneficiary is an unfortunate term to use, but Lou did get his first playoff start because of Trae’s injury. During this year’s playoffs, Lou has played his 15 minutes off the bench and has only scored around seven points a game. They call him “Sweet” Lou for a reason, though, as he made the most of his first playoff start by scoring 21 points and dishing out 8 assists. Combined with heroic efforts from Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, and Clint Capela, the Hawks upset a surging Bucks team and tied the series up at two.

Being one of the best sixth men of all time won’t necessarily grant a player an automatic bid into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, but there’s no denying that Lou Williams has the resume to walk the halls of basketball royalty. Every elite team could use a Lou Williams; he’s a luxury that doesn’t come around often.