Who are the most crucial Atlanta Hawks players? Part 2

7 of 8

2. Lou Williams, SG 

Lou Williams drives past Darren Collison. (Scott Cunningham/NBA/Getty Images)

There is a possibility that Lou Williams will not play until after the All-Star break in February. As most already know, he is still recovering from the ACL injury he suffered in January against the Brooklyn Nets.

According to the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore, the Hawks have set no timeline for Williams return and the team is not likely to rush him back. They will make absolutely certain he is 100% ready to play before allowing him back onto the court. In the meantime, the Hawks will have to start the season trying to find a way to supplement Williams’ scoring output. That won’t be easy.

So, why the high ranking for a player that may miss more than the first half of the season?  Well, Lou is likely the only Hawks player that can be considered a “scorer”, meaning he can make baskets off passes from teammates or take matters into his own hands and create a shot all by himself. Lou’s pension for scoring would be a terrific asset for the Hawks offense, especially on possessions that drag deep into the shot clock or near the end of a tight game when the team needs a basket.

At the team’s open practice three weeks ago, Williams seemed to be moving around reasonably well, but was clearly still favoring his still recovering right knee. Williams did trot through a few opening practice drills, however, his return hardly looked imminent. It seems a late December or early January return is a best case scenario for Williams and the Hawks.

A healthy Lou Williams, added to the pieces the Hawks already have in place, makes the Hawks offense exponentially better. The Hawks would have all the offensive bases covered — post presence (Horford & Millsap), outside shooting (Korver & Jenkins), ball handling (Teague & Schroder), and scoring (Williams).

Hawks fans saw first hand this preseason the struggles the team’s offense had with two of the NBA’s upper echelon defenses in Memphis & Indiana. The Hawks failed to break 90 points in both games, and appeared to have no answer when the Grizzlies and Pacers stepped up their defensive efforts. A healthy Williams would go a long way in helping to solve these problems. Lou will certainly be needed if the Hawks are going to surpass last year’s win total.