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The Whiteboard: Lou Williams is the greatest sixth man in NBA history

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Lou Williams, on his way to a terrific 35 point showing that helped the Los Angeles Clippers drop 140 in a big win over the Boston Celtics, became the NBA’s all-time leader in bench scoring on Monday. Before that feat, the idea for this column was to shout out Lou Will for being the Sixth Man of the Year this season.

Williams is doubtlessly qualified for that honor. He’s averaging 20.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from 3-point range this season. Lou Will leads the Clippers in scoring and has yet to start a single game for Los Angeles.

Saying he’s the Sixth Man of the Year isn’t incorrect, but it doesn’t feel like it goes far enough. Williams leads all sixth men in bench scoring, and he’s just 32 years old. Considering he should still have some very good basketball left, it feels more apt to say he’s the greatest sixth man in league history, or at least on pace to be the sixth man GOAT.

Jamal Crawford is probably the other candidate for this honor, and he’s got a strong case as well. The biggest difference is that Crawford got more opportunity to start games than Lou Will. In his lengthy career, 32.9 percent of Crawford’s games have been starts. Williams, on the other hand, has started just 11.8 percent of his career NBA games.

If Williams finishes this year without starting a single game, he’ll have a 20 point per game scoring year with 0 starts, something Crawford never pulled off (his only 20-point per game season came with Crawford starting 80 games).

Ricky Pierce is the only player in NBA history aside from Lou Will to finish a game with 0 starts while scoring more than 20 points per game, and he ended up starting more of his games than Williams has over the course of his career. No player has been this good while remaining a true sixth man. Lou Williams is a legend in many senses of the word, he’s the Sixth Man of the Year, and the GOAT sixth man. And he knows it.

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