Last season, Lou Williams was solid off the bench for the Hawks, but coming off an ACL surgery he wasn’t the attacking, aggressive Williams everyone remembers. He was taking a lot of threes (47 percent of his shots) and knocking down a decent 34 percent of them, but he struggled from the midrange and, as usual, wasn’t much good on the defensive end.
More than that, he said he didn’t really feel part of what Mike Budenholzer was building in Atlanta. Then during the playoffs he’d flip on the Raptors games from Toronto and see a crazed fan base and see something he wanted to be a part of.
Now he is — the Hawks moved the last year of his deal ($5.4 million) to Toronto this summer, and Williams told the Raptors Web site he is excited for a new start.
“I think one of the best benefits of it is being in a position where you feel wanted,” Williams said. “When they traded for me and had the conversation, they want me here. It wasn’t a money thing. It wasn’t just something to do. They felt they had a void they needed to fill coming off the bench and I’m excited to help. I feel wanted. I feel like I have a responsibility with this basketball team and that’s the best way I can operate.”
Williams will play behind the just re-signed Kyle Lowry. It often takes two years to really come back from a ACL surgery, which bodes well for him in Toronto this year. But he said he had to adjust his game.
“It changed the entire direction of my career when I got hurt,” he said. “I had to become a smarter player. I realized I wouldn’t be as fast as I once was. I couldn’t just rely on talent. I‘d have to work harder now. I had to prepare myself in a completely different way.”
Williams could be a boost to a Raptors team that is in that crowded second tier in the East with Washington, Brooklyn, Miami (maybe), Charlotte, Atlanta and maybe the Knicks. The Raptors could finish top four, have a playoff round at home and advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001 (when it was the Vince Carter and Antonio Davis show).
If Williams finds his attacking form again, the fans north of the border will love him.