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Is Lou Williams better than Kyle Lowry in fantasy?

Lou Williams is having his best season yet, but is he a better option than Kyle Lowry going forward? Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic.

Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's Jim McCormick, Joe Kaiser and Kyle Soppe, and ESPN Analytics writer Seth Walder.


Lou Williams (No. 21) sits right next to Kyle Lowry (No. 22) on the ESPN Player Rater, based on averages. Which player would you rather have for the remainder of the season?

Joe Kaiser: The way Williams is playing, it's difficult to pass on him. He is capable of going off for 4-5 3-pointers and 30-plus points just about any night he's on the court. However, I'd lean towards Lowry because he's much more of a factor as a rebounder and also holds an edge in assists and steals -- stat categories that are more difficult to address than points.

Both 31-year-old veterans have been in the league for more than a decade and each is just about as durable as the other, so neither has much of an advantage there.

Jim McCormick: For some context into the brilliant season the Clippers' perimeter scoring machine is enjoying, Kyrie Irving's per-36 production this season equates to 26.5 PPG, 5.5 APG and 4.0 RPG, while Williams has tallied 26.4 PPG, 5.6 APG and 2.9 RPG on a per-36 basis. For a direct comparison with his former Toronto teammate, Williams is second in the entire league in added value from the free throw line on the Player Rater, while Lowry is 14th. Williams is fifth in the league in added value from beyond the arc, while Lowry is eighth (Irving is ninth).

It might just be a perfect storm of usage and opportunity for Williams in LA that is fueling this scintillating season, one that could clearly derail if the Clippers trade him at the deadline. That said, I'm willing to gamble that Williams plays out the year for the Clippers, especially with an owner and front office who appear pot committed to chasing a late playoff berth.

Given that I prefer his workload and scoring metrics, I prefer Williams over Lowry for the remainder of the season, as the only real positive statistical margin for the Raptors point guard is in assist production, and the margin is just 1.9 per game.

Seth Walder: Give me Lowry. I think this all comes down to how sustainable Williams' performance is, since he's the one playing beyond preseason or general expectation. And Williams' shooting has me concerned a regression is coming.

Over the past four seasons, Williams has had a quantified shooter impact (qSI) of 1.7 on all shots and 1.8 on 3-pointers, respectively, per Second Spectrum. That means he has posted an eFG% 1.7 points higher overall (and 1.8 points higher on 3-pointers) than expected, based on his quantified shot quality (qSQ). But this season, those two qSI numbers have ballooned to 6.7 and 12.8 (!), respectively.

Remember, this is already taking the quality of the shots into account. qSI is measuring just his pure shooting ability, and I'm willing to bet that at 31 years old, Williams didn't suddenly become dramatically superior in this department. If we bank on a scoring drop-off, he isn't on the same plane as Lowry.

Kyle Soppe: C'mon now. Yes, Sweet Lou is cookin', and there is no denying his ability to flat out score the basketball, but Lowry was drafted in the third round this fall, and I see no reason why he isn't the right call here.

The Raptors' point guard has averaged more than 11 rebounds-plus assists each season he has spent north of the border, and while Williams' scoring ceiling is higher, let's not ignore the fact that Lowry can fill it up as well (making 2.94 3s per game and converting at a 39.7 percent clip over the last two-plus seasons).

I think Lowry is the better player on a per-minute basis from this point forward, and considering I also project him to hold the edge in minutes played, there is no question who I want here.