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While the Clippers 2012-13 season did not end how many anticipated, there were still a number of standout individual performers from what is widely considered the most historic season in franchise history. Over the course of the next 10 days, Clippers.com will pass out awards in line with the NBA’s annual end-of-season hardware, including a couple of special editions.

Chris Paul led the NBA in steals and finished first team All-Defense. Eric Bledsoe was among the league’s best guards in steals and blocks per 36 minutes. And DeAndre Jordan was a visible defensive presence, swatting shots away with violence and emphasis.

Any of the three would have been perfectly reasonable choices for the Clippers’ 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year. However, in a season when the second unit was as important as any other reserve group in the league, gritty forward Matt Barnes was an even more deserving recipient.

Barnes, who signed a one-year deal with the Clippers last summer, was a key to the frenetic defense that led the NBA in steals. He averaged 10.2 minutes in the fourth quarter, second on the team to Jamal Crawford’s 10.5, and averaged a steal per game. He was excellent at funneling ball-handlers to the back line of the defense, was tenacious, tough and exemplified the “defense leads to offense” philosophy the Clippers often talked about with his seemingly endless stamina, running the floor on steals and misses.

In March, former Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said, "He does a nice job running the court. He has a good edge to him on the defensive end. He rebounds the ball pretty well, at a pretty good rate for his position. He just brings a lot to the table."

Barnes is as tough as they come. He played most of the early portion of the season with a nagging pinkie injury. He sprained his ankle in Houston in March, walked off the court and was back in the lineup two nights later against Indiana. Meanwhile, he never complained, never made excuses and continued to play the kind of hounding defense that characterized him throughout his second go around with the Clippers.

“It’s a mentality, definitely,” Barnes said of being a tough-minded player. “I think there are things you can do to toughen yourself up. It comes with experience and learning and knowing the game. It’s not necessarily about sticking your chest out and saying, ‘I’m tough.”

Toughness, of course, is part of what makes Barnes the defensive player of the year for the Clippers. But his numbers, including the team’s leading fourth-leading rebounder, are as well.

He averaged 4.6 rebounds, matching the fourth highest mark of his career. He was the only wing player in the league to play fewer than 26 minutes and average better than 4.5 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 1.0 steals. 

The Clippers were ninth in defensive efficiency (101.0) and had nine of their 15 most-used lineups hold opponents to fewer than 100 points per 100 possessions. Barnes was the only player who was a member of all nine of those lineups. They were also second in the league in points off turnovers (19.6), an area where Barnes, who had arguably his best all-around season, thrived.  

G

MPG

ORPG

DRPG

RPG

APG

SPG

BPG

FG%

3P%

FT%

PPG

80

25.7

1.4

3.2

4.6

1.5

1.03

0.7

.462

.342

.740

10.3


THE FAN VOICE

Clippers fans were asked to name their Defensive Player of the Year for the 2012-13 season via Twitter. Here are some of their responses:

Matt Barnes

Eric Bledsoe

DeAndre Jordan