clippersawardheader

viewpastwinners

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 last 10 days, Clippers.com has passed out awards in line with the NBA’s annual end-of-season hardware, including a couple of special editions. Here is the final award in our series.

Being unsung on the basketball court typically means you are rarely noticed or your impact was felt without proper recognition.

In many ways, the premise of the award belies the award itself. The Clippers had a number of unsung players on their 2012-13 roster. Ryan Hollins had his playing time shift drastically throughout the season but worked tirelessly to stay ready. Grant Hill offered veteran leadership despite being buried behind Caron Butler and Matt Barnes and battling through a bone bruise in his right knee through most of the first three months of the season. Lamar Odom was a spiritual leader, Caron Butler an emotional catalyst and Ronny Turiaf helped keep things light-hearted with his frequent in-game “twirls.”

Still, there was Willie Green.

The 10-year veteran, who came to the Clippers after splitting the first nine years of his career in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Atlanta, was inserted into the starting lineup from day one. The reasoning was twofold, Green would fill the role until Chauncey Billups (Achilles rehab) returned and not disrupt what turned out to be the best bench rotation in the league, led by Sixth Man runner up Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes.

Green struggled early, playing what amounted to two 7-8 minute stretches at the beginning of each half. At the time, he was playing through a meniscus injury that would have kept most players sidelined. As he got more comfortable and, as Green said at one point, he was able to get his usual reps in the gym, his shooting percentage soared.

He was one of the league’s top 3-point shooters in the final month, became deadly from the right corner, and finished 42.8 percent from distance (tenth in the NBA amongst players who qualified).

Green’s shooting, though, was not why he was arguably one of the league’s most unsung players last season. It was the way he handled the frequency in which his playing time would ebb and flow. Billups returned in November for three games, Green went to the bench.

He started 60 games (1,100 minutes) when Billups was out with various injuries, and played a combined 78 minutes in the 22 games Billups was healthy. Yet every time he was called upon, Green was there.

Nearly every player on the roster referred to Green as an “ultimate professional” as Matt Barnes did in March. There were no Willie Green jerseys in the stands or Lob City highlight packages featuring the soft-spoken shooting guard.

“Willie has been a complete pro,” former Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said in April. “When his number’s called he’s ready to go. He’ll be one of the last guys to leave no matter how many minutes he’s playing and he stays prepared.”

Sounds like an apt unsung award winner on a team that had plenty of candidates.

G

GS

MPG

RPG

APG

FG%

3PM-3PA

3P%

FT%

PPG

72

60

16.5

1.3

0.8

.461

71-166

.428

.719

6.3

THE FAN VOICE

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

Willie Green

Lamar Odom

Matt Barnes

Caron Butler