The 4-3 Atlanta Hawks can see themselves getting a boost off the bench in the near future, and it'll come in the form of shooting guard Lou Williams. The eight-year pro has returned to playing fullcourt basketball and is working himself back into shape following a torn ACL, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chris Vivlamore reports.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said Williams had been playing five-on-five with the team:
"He is basically competing full-go now," Budenholzer said Wednesday morning before the Hawks took on the Knicks. "I guess, in that sense, you could say he's been cleared. He is doing everything. It's now getting game-ready or game-comfortable. He's played five-on-five. He is basically cleared to do everything. We'll get him to where he feels comfortable playing in a game."
Budenholzer didn't want to set any return dates for the offensively-gifted shooting guard, who through 39 games averaged 14.1 points for Atlanta last year before tearing his right ACL on Jan. 18.
But there's no doubt Williams could find a place in the Hawks' backcourt whenever he's able to return. The Hawks have been a fast-paced, offensive-minded team early on, and adding another shooter will complement the duo of Al Horford and Paul Millsap operating in the paint.
Williams could fill a gap on a team that's second in the NBA in assists per game thanks to fine ball movement and well-rounded offensive talent. There hasn't been much production at shooting guard off the bench behind starter Kyle Korver, and second-year guard John Jenkins has seen inconsistent minutes -- though that's because of his defense.
Williams was the runner-up in the 2011-12 Sixth Man of the Year award race while with the Philadelphia 76ers. When he returns, it's likely Williams continues coming off the bench behind a solidified starting lineup of Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll, Horford, Millsap and Korver.