When people reflect on the 2010-11 playoffs, they’ll think any number of the following thoughts: 1) Bill Simmons probably went nuts jibbering on about Rudy Gay further proving his “Ewing Theory” that sometimes good players make a team worse. 2) The Heat can turn themselves up to 11, they just haven’t had a reason to yet. 3) Danny Ainge made a mistake getting rid of Kendrick Perkins. 4) Carlos Boozer? Not that big of a deal. 5) Turns out Duncan really is just getting old. 6) Turns out Tony Parker really isn’t that good of a point guard against strong interior defense. 7) Drafting Serge Ibaka in the third round next season probably won’t happen, but might not be nuts if it did. 8 ) Dallas and Pau? In finesse games, soft doesn’t mean unsuccessful. 9) Dwight Howard is surrounded by junk . Swap Dwight with the best player on any other NBA team and that team would have a better record than Orlando this season. Yes, even Cleveland. Yes, even Minnesota. 10) The Sixers – one year older – might be a scary team in 2011. We’ll stop at that last one, which shouldn’t surprise you. I mean, you know this post is all about Louis Williams, did you think I was going to talk about Tim Duncan for 450 words? The Sixers are Iguodala and a roster full of keepers and sleepers. That’s an exciting proposition for a team’s fan base looking to get out of the first round of future playoffs and a terrifying one for fantasy owners figuring out which of those players are worth owning next season. Let’s see why Screwy Looey might be a fantasy sleeper in 2011.
The elephant in the room here is that Williams didn’t have a good playoff series against Miami. He shot .327 in Round 1, inexplicably digressing from his .406 regular season percentage. So there’s that. Williams’ two best games coincided with Philly’s only victory and their closest loss. So there’s that too. Williams is like a supporting character in a TV drama. He isn’t involved in most of the main story arcs, kinda hits similar notes whenever he’s in a scene, and yet, Philly wouldn’t be better off without him. Think: Doc Cochran from Deadwood, Bubbles from The Wire, A.J. from The Sopranos or Joan from Mad Men. Williams’ minutes dwindled in the final three months of the season (from 26 to 25 to 23 to 20 between January and April), partly because of injuries, partly because Iguodala returned from injury and partly in-line with Jodie Meeks’ ebbing and flowing. Through it all, Williams improved his PER to a career-high 18.9 and solidified his role as the first guard off the bench. Having averaged seven fewer MPGs this season than last, Williams’ per36 stats illuminated his career-best 3PTM, PTS and second-bests in AST and FT%. In short, he’s tightening up his game. His FG% is still dreadful, sure, but he’ll only be 25 next season and I’m expecting Williams to hit his peak accordingly. Does that mean he cracks the top 100 next year? Nah. Not unless Philly sees substantial injuries. But J.R. Smith, Ronnie Brewer, Afflalo, Arenas, Mike Miller and Shannon Brown will all likely get drafted in 12-team leagues or deeper next season and I can see Williams’ 14/2.5/4, with 2.5 3ptm+stls proving better than anything those other guys do. Church.