Lou Williams is one of the most potent off-the-bench scorers in league history. His three Sixth Man of the Year trophies speak for themselves. It proves that even when he's coming off the bench cold, Williams could heat it up whenever he sees fit. He has a very deep offensive toolbox which he utilizes. The most lethal of them all is probably his side-fadeaway jump shot. Williams recently revealed the unlikely genesis of his signature maneuver.
Blessing in disguise
It's one big mystery how Williams, a lanky, 6-foot-2 guard, scores over guys bigger and faster than him with relative ease. Analysts describe his game as a smooth, easy-flowing style. It's hypnotizing to watch Williams weave his way around defenses, which he usually punctuates with his dreaded side-fadeaway shot. According to Williams, his signature shot was born after a gruesome injury when he was 13-years-old.
"13 I tore my ACL. Then I came back 14, was getting my jump shot blocked. I didn't have the explosiveness I had before that. I just had to adjust. So honestly, that s**t developed in an emergency," Williams said, per the Knuckleheads podcast.
Interestingly, his injury and response to cope with it might have even propelled his career to greater heights. Williams revealed that pre-injury, he had a tougher time getting his jump shot over his foes. But post-ACL, now armed with a new move, Williams was able to get his smooth stroke off. It even taught him the valuable lesson of constantly modifying your game — a piece of wisdom he would use later in his professional career.
"Before then I couldn't get away from nobody. You know what I'm saying because I used a lot of my athletic ability before that. I didn't really use skill. So that ACL slowed me down. I think it kind of set the bar for the rest of my career because I was able to adjust as the time went on. I became different players, I started to do different things," Williams said.
Sweet Lou's legacy
It's already established that along with Jamal Crawford and Manu Ginobili Sweet Lou is among the greatest Sixth Men of all time. Coming off the bench does not excite a basketball player, be it a professional athlete or a pick-up legend. But through Williams, Ginobili's, and Crawford's efforts, the role took a different shape and form.
It also set a precedent, especially for the young guns. Being a star does not mean being part of the starting five every single game. To become a star, you have to be the very best in the role you have been assigned.
We can say that two types of fadeaway shots have made their mark in basketball history. The first one is Michael Jordan's fadeaway which Kobe Bryant perfectly mimicked. There's also Dirk Nowitzki's fadeaway that numerous players have integrated into their offensive arsenal. We should add William's side-fadeaway to this legendary list as it carries the same potency. Sweet Lou deserves all the respect, too.