Raptors' Lou Williams wins NBA Sixth Man Award

Updated: 2015-04-21 10:33


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TORONTO - Toronto Raptors guard Lou Williams was announced as the winner of the 2014-15 season NBA Sixth Man Award on Monday for being the league's best player in a reserve role.

Raptors' Lou Williams wins NBA Sixth Man Award

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) drives into the key against Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) and guard Lou Williams (23 in the second half at Air Canada Centre. [Photo/Agencies]

The 28-year-old averaged a career-high 15.5 points to help Toronto win a franchise-record 49 games. He becomes the first player in franchise history to capture the award.

In his tenth NBA season and first with the Raptors, Williams garnered 78 first place votes and 502 total points from a panel of 130 media members from the United States and Canada.

Williams beat Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas and two-time winner Jamal Crawford of Los Angeles Clippers, who finished with 324 points (33 first-place votes) and 131 points (eight first-place votes) respectively.

"I just want to thank my teammates and my family for being here. This is a tremendous accomplishment," said Williams during his award acceptance speech in Toronto. "The fan base has embraced me. I've had some very supportive teammates. I'm forever grateful."

For Williams, his path to winning the award was a difficult journey.

After committing to play at the University of Georgia after high school, Williams opted to enter the 2005 NBA Draft where he was chosen 45th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Williams played six seasons with Philadelphia including the 2011-12 season where he led his team in scoring with 14.9 points per game, despite not starting a game. He finished runner-up to Thunder guard James Harden for the Sixth Man of the Year Award that season.

The following season, Williams signed with his hometown Atlanta Hawks. Three months into the season, he suffered a season-ending injury by tearing his ACL.

For Williams, he feared that he career would be over.

"I didn't think I was going to be the same player," said Williams. "I knew I wasn't going to have the foot speed that I once had. I knew I wasn't going to jump as higher."

Ten months later, Williams returned the action but was not the same player he once was.

In the following off-season, Williams was acquired by Raptors' general manager Masai Ujiri in the hopes of solidifying Toronto's second unit.

For Williams, it was a second chance for him to prove that he was still capable of producing at a high level.

"It taught me to be smarter. I worked on different parts of my game," said Williams. "This year is probably the most three pointers I've taken in my career. That was one of the things I really worked on going in the summer knowing I wasn't going to be able to beat guys off the dribble as I was in the past."

Williams had career highs in three pointers made (152) and attempted (447), smashing his previous career highs of 88 and 253 respectively.

"For me to be able to evolve and change my game and win this award," said Williams. "It's very gratifying."

For a player to be eligible for the Sixth Man Award, they had to come off the bench in more games than they started during a season.

Williams came off the bench in all of Toronto's 80 games in the past season and has embraced his role.

"It's been forever since I've started a game," said Williams who has come off the bench in 580 of his 634 career games. "I've relished in my role in being a 6th man."

Williams is more focused on winning than personal statistical accomplishments.

"Starting has never been a big deal for me. I've always been a team guy," said Williams. "A lot of guys want to be starters because of the attention. I've always wanted to win - whether I was a starter or a role player."

His mentality has rubbed off on his teammates, who have welcomed him with open arms.

"They've had this group of guys for a number of years and were already building in the right way," said Williams. "For them to embrace me here along this journey has been eye-opening that anything is possible if you stay grateful to the grind."