3 players OKC Thunder should target with $10.9 million tax exemption from Melo trade

Spurs GM, R.C. Buford talks to OKC Thunder GM, Sam Presti (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Spurs GM, R.C. Buford talks to OKC Thunder GM, Sam Presti (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder target Lou Williams
SANTA MONICA, CA – JUNE 25: 6th Man Award winner Lou Williams speaks onstage at the 2018 NBA Awards at Barkar Hangar on June 25, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Turner Sports) /

Lou Williams

Acquiring Lou Williams is tougher than the previous two options given the Los Angeles Clippers desire (confusingly) to compete this season. Despite the 31-year old signing a deal to the tune of $24-million over the next three seasons, his contract is team friendly in a rising salary cap.

The Clippers managed to commit highway robbery in broad daylight as most NBA players averaging 22.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists on 43.5 percent shooting and 35.9 percent from three will command far greater than $8 million per season. Williams also won the sixth-man of the year last year, pushing his stock up exponentially.

Nonetheless, Sweet-Lou has everything OKC need. He is a microwave scorer than can put up points in a multitude of ways. He’s an extremely smart ball player that possesses a quick first step to get to the hole. At just 6’1, Lou converted on 60 percent of his shots between 0-3 feet and drew a staggering 6.2 free throw attempts per game (13th in the league).

That ranks him just below Westbrook who drew a 9th best seven free throws per game. Williams shot a solid 36 percent from three on a career high 5.9 attempts per game. The Thunder need scoring badly and his ability to shoot from anywhere on the court is a massive upgrade over any scoring threat currently on OKC’s roster.

The video below shows Sweet-Lou’s 50 point explosion in the Clippers 125-106 win over Golden State. He shot 16-27 from the field, 8-16 3-PT and 10-10 from the line in 35 minutes.

Drawbacks of a Schroder-Williams Combo

His acquisition doesn’t come without questions regarding fit. Oklahoma City are likely to use him off the bench alongside new Thunder signing Schroder. Both players clocked a 30 percent usage rate on their respective 2017-18 teams which poses a problem as who has the ball. However, Williams has shown the ability to play off the ball and doesn’t always require the rock to score.

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One surmises Sweet-Lou’s usage was by necessity since the Clippers had no other serious scoring threat outside him. Like Schroder, Williams can create his own offense but he relies on more than just getting to the hoop. Schroder averaged 16.4 drives per game (third in the NBA) is and finished 59 percent of his attempts. The German isn’t a genuine threat from deep though, shooting a poor 29 percent.

The other issue is defense. Schroder and Williams are undersized guards who struggle to handle bigger assignments. While they score in bunches, they bleed points on the other end. To be fair, both players are turnstile defenders (insert Zach Lavine) but their sheer size make it a tough cover. Each play the passing lanes reasonably well (both averaging 1.1 steals per game) and would be superb in creating fastbreak offense.

OKC were the best in the league in steals (9.0) thus adding Williams to the roster makes Oklahoma City a clear favorite to lead the league again. The Thunder’s roster is heavily comprised of strong defenders therefore hiding these two isn’t a pressing issue.

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Prying Lou from the Clippers is tough. I’d imagine they’d command a pick and a young piece before they give up Williams. Yet, his team friendly contract combined with sensational output makes him a difficult target to acquire.