On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that guard Lou Williams was examined by Dr. Steve Yoon and underwent an ultrasound test that revealed a strained left hamstring suffered in the second quarter of LA's victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
As a result, William will miss at least a week, which adds up to a minimum of four games. During his time out, the Lakers expect to mix in more time for reserve guard Marcelo Huertas, who played 14 minutes during Tuesday's game after William pulled up limp.
Huertas is a veteran 32-year-old point guard from Brazil by way of Barcelona, and the Sao Paulo native is exceptional with his passing ability and court vision, though his quickness and defensive ability often come into question on the court. While Williams' time on the sidelines offers Huertas a chance to make a second impression in his first season in the NBA, the true impact should come in the form of increased minutes for the Lakers' starting backcourt.
To conclude the season, the Lakers are starting rookie D'Angelo Russell and second-year Jordan Clarkson as a backcourt tandem. With Williams out, Lakers coach Byron Scott should be more willing to leave the two young guards on the court for longer spells, even when everything may not be going according to plan. At the moment, the Lakers only have three guards healthy, so Scott is limited in his options.
Russell had a coming out performance on Tuesday night when he scored 39 points, which marked the highest point total for a Lakers' rookie since 1959, when the team still played in Minneapolis. In that game, the 20-year-old displayed tremendous poise down the stretch and played a team-high 35 minutes. With Williams out, Russell should continue to record big minutes.
Clarkson already leads the team in minutes, with 32.4 per game. Williams and Kobe Bryant are tied for second in that category with 29.2 minutes per outing. With Williams out, Clarkson expects to get even more time on the court, and Tuesday night provided the 23-year-old 34 minutes on the court, which only narrowly trailed Russell's 35 minutes.
With Williams out, Huertas will get more time on the court, but ultimately the biggest alteration will be increased exposure for Clarkson and Russell. Scott and the Lakers, obviously, hope that increased time leads to increased production and further development of their young starlets.