When the Los Angeles Clippers’ season ends, reserve guard Lou Williams will have completed his 14th NBA season. Having been a member of the last ever Draft class able to enter the league directly out of high school, Williams is relatively young despite all that experience, only turning 32 in October.
Yet with 936 regular season appearances alongside 55 (and counting) postseason games played in that time, Williams has an awful lot of miles on the clock already.
This in itself would not be particularly noteworthy were it not for the fact that, somehow, Williams has continued to improve throughout his career. He simply seems to get better the older he gets.
It is a matter of significant debate and conjecture as to what is the average age an NBA player enters the prime years of their career. No sides in that debate, though, would consider the age of 31 to be a likely breakout year. This nonetheless is what Williams did last season – he hit new levels not seen in his previous 13 years.
Of course, he was already good, a scorer of at least 15 points per game in each of the previous three seasons and winner of the 2015 Sixth Man of the Year award for being voted as the league’s best player off the bench. However, last season Williams kicked that up to a giant 22.6 points per game to go along with a career-high in assists per game at 5.3, numbers he near-enough mirrored this regular season with averages of 20.0 and 5.4 respectively. A second Sixth Man of the Year award followed accordingly.
Indeed, Williams improves not only between seasons, but during seasons. He increased his scoring average across each of the first five months of this season, from 16.7 points per game in October up to 24.5 per game in February, and doing so while maintaining a mere 26.6 minutes per game average on the season, far down from last year’s 32.8 mark.