TORONTO — Lou Williams said there were times he doubted he’d ever be back to playing at his best.
The Raptors guard was named NBA Eastern Conference player of the week Monday after helping Toronto to a 3-0 record last week.
The 28-year-old was coming off his worst season of his nine-year NBA career, struggling in his comeback after tearing his ACL in January of 2013.
“When you’re sitting there and you have a cast on, wheelchair, crutches, and you can’t lift your leg up, you can’t ride a bike, you can’t run, you can’t jog, obviously there’s going to be some doubt there,” Williams said prior to Monday night’s game against the visiting Phoenix Suns.
“But two years later, it’s great to see some fruits of the labour, to feel myself back to 100 per cent, back healthy and having some success with that.”
“Just continued to work,” he said. “I had a lot of confidence, and just talking to other guys who had been through the same injury, and seeing them play well at a high level again. Kyle (Lowry) was one of those people. He went through it in college, and to see him get back …”
Williams averaged 23.7 points a game off the bench last week and had a .526 three-point percentage after connecting on 10-of-19 shots from long range. He also hit all 21 of his free-throw attempts over the three games.
He was the only player in the NBA last week to average over 23 points and play less than 25 minutes a game.
“It was nice,” coach Dwane Casey said on Williams’ award. “Lou could probably start on some teams, but he’s made a living being the sixth man off the bench, and he’s back healthy again, he’s a big plus for our second unit. . . Congratulations to Lou for that.
“It’s an individual award, but I also think it’s a team award — guys getting him open, guys moving the ball to him — just as much as an individual award.”
Williams, who had a career-high 36 points in a 110-93 victory in Cleveland last Saturday, became the first non-starter in team history to shoot a perfect 15-for-15 from the free-throw line.
The Williams deal had to be one of the most fortuitous deal of the off-season. The Raptors acquired the guard and the rights to Brazilian big man Lucas (Bebe) Nogueira from Atlanta in the trade that sent John Salmons to the Hawks.
Toronto took an Eastern Conference-leading 11-2 record into the home game against the Suns.