The Los Angeles Clippers are an excellent team for many reasons, and one of those reasons is the play of their sixth man. He’s been a great option off of the bench for years, and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. He isn’t the quickest or strongest player on the court, but he has a clever skillset that has made him a difficult player to guard throughout his entire career. He’s so good that Kevin Durant surprisingly placed him alongside four other NBA stars as the game’s hardest players to guard.
Who does Kevin Durant think are the hardest players to guard?
Kevin Durant’s time on social media tends to devolve into arguments over his decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors, but he recently used his online presence for a more relaxed reason. He conducted a Q & A session on Twitter through the account for his ESPN+ show, The Boardroom, where he answered questions from fans regarding the state of the NBA. When asked who are the five toughest players to guard, Durant responded with four no-brainers and one curiosity. The four no-brainers are:
- Joel Embiid
- Paul George
- LeBron James
- Kawhi Leonard
It’s easy to see why Durant listed those four players. LeBron James has a real argument for being the best player of all time. Kawhi Leonard is the only player to be named the Finals MVP with a team from each conference, Paul George is the prototypical wing player that every team dreams of, and Joel Embiid is a seven-footer with an excellent post game.
It’s the fifth player on Durant’s list that raises some eyebrows. If you’re a Clippers fan or die-hard NBA fan, you probably know who it is. Everyone else, prepare to be surprised.
The Clippers can’t win without Lou Williams
When you think about this year’s Clippers team, Lou Williams is not the first player you think about. You think about Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who are both elite NBA players. Or maybe you think about super-sub Montrezl Harrell, who is the subject of trade rumors. Those players have earned that recognition.
Leonard is coming off one of the best playoff performances in recent memory, carrying the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title. George is coming off the best season of his career. He posted career-highs in points per game (28), rebounds (8.2), assists (four) and steals (2.2). He was a legitimate contender for the NBA MVP and the Defensive Player of the Year awards. Damian Lillard ended his and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s season with an instantly iconic buzzer-beater, but George’s standing in the game only went up last year.
The Clippers had to move a staggering level of assets to get both players, but if you have a chance to acquire two of the best 15 players in the game, you do whatever it takes to do so.
As great as Leonard and George are as players, they can’t win the title by themselves. That’s where Lou Williams comes in. His ability to score and run the offense in short bursts will be crucial to the Clippers’ title hopes. Here’s why Kevin Durant considers Williams worthy of his hardest to guard list.
What makes Williams such a good offensive player?
Lou Williams is a rare type of player, in that he can score efficiently from every level of the court. He can still get to the rim 14 years into his career, hurt defenses in the midrange, and he’s hitting threes at a higher clip now than he ever has before. His off-ball game is good enough that he can play alongside Leonard and George in certain lineups. His pick and roll combination with Montrezl Harrell is absolutely deadly.
Williams doesn’t look like he would be an especially tough player to guard. He’s only 6-foot-1, and he’s not a high-flying athlete. What he is, however, is crafty.
Williams has used his years of experience to develop several slippery dribbling moves that can keep his defender off-balance. He knows how to draw foul calls in certain situations, and elude contact on other occasions. Williams also confuses defenders by preferring to drive left even though he’s predominantly right-handed. That can cause a split-second of doubt in the opponent that gives Williams enough time to get to his spot.
Durant might be exaggerating when he says that Lou Williams is one of the five toughest players to guard, but on his best days, he can look like a perennial All-Star. During his time on the Lakers, he set a record for the most points scored by a reserve (137) in a four-game stretch since the NBA began keeping track of starts in 1970.
During last year’s playoffs, he became the second bench player in NBA history with a 30-point, 10-assist performance in the playoffs in a comeback victory over the Golden State Warriors. He accomplished the feat again three games later.
Lou Williams’ has never started more than 38 games in a season, but he’s carved out a niche as one of the best sixth men of all time. The Clippers won’t win a title without him playing at his best.