Ahead of the 2021-22 season, our staff takes a look at what each member of the Atlanta Hawks may bring to the table this season. To kick off the series, we look at veteran guard and Atlanta legend Lou Williams.
‘Lemon Pepper Lou’ is back for another season.
During the trade deadline last season, the Atlanta Hawks traded Rajon Rondo to the Los Angeles Clippers for Lou Williams. With Rondo being underwhelming for the first half of the season, the Hawks needed somebody that can be instant offense off the bench. Williams was the answer, but he could also serve as a mentor to the group of young players on the team.
At first, it was a question on if Williams would ever suit up for the Hawks after an Instagram post he made prior to the trade. Instead, he took a few days and joined the team in Phoenix during their road trip.
“I don’t want to look back and say I retired prematurely, be asking myself what could have been or what I could’ve done,” Williams said after joining the team. “This is an opportunity to finish out the season with this team and go from there.”
Williams finished the season averaging 10.0 points and 3.4 assists for the Hawks. Coach Nate McMillian immediately inserted him as the backup guard. It worked out for the Hawks, as there were times where he showed he can turn into a microwave:
You can’t forget about the game where he got hot late against the Charolette Hornets in April. Trae Young was out in both of those games, which meant it was on Williams and the Hawks supporting cast to to step up. It’s obvious to say Williams did his part.
Williams also played a big part in the playoffs, and was a factor in why the Hawks won a few games, including his second half scoring barrage in Game 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers:
With Williams set to be a free agent after last season, he had a number of offers on the table from a few teams like the Lakers and the Bucks. It was the Hawks who won him over, as he re-signed on a one-year deal worth $5 million. The Hawks will still expect Williams to come off the bench and get buckets, but he’ll probably do it in a more limited role this season.
That was the perception after the Hawks traded for Delon Wright. Wright is younger, and offers more on both sides of the ball. With Wright’s versatility, it’s possible that Williams could play alongside him at times during the season. He also showed during the playoffs that he could play next to Young in brief stretches, so that pairing could also be on the table.
One of the things that Williams should continue to do is help the growth of Onyeka Okongwu. Okongwu became more polished in the pick-and-roll when Williams arrived, as he had the same strong connection with Montrezl Harrell when they were on the Clippers.
Williams consistently set up Harrell with plays like this in LA:
He then came to Atlanta and did the same thing for Okongwu:
Okongwu will be out for the start of the season, and Williams may not see many minutes, so this one-two punch may not be able to build off of the success they had late in the season. Nonetheless, you can see the impact Williams had on Okongwu, and the other players as well.
If the Hawks need instant offense, don’t be surprised to see Williams on the floor this season.