Name: Willie J. Green
2013-2014 Key Stats: 5.0 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 0.9 APG, 37.6% FG, 33.9% 3PT, 82.4% FT
Years in the NBA: 11
Years with the Clippers: 2
2013-2014 Salary: $1,399,507
Contract Status: Non-guaranteed in 2014-2015; $1,448,490 if picked up
In a Nutshell
When you think of a player that embodies the "consummate professional" or "perfect teammate" ideal, Willie Green is one of the first people that pops up in your mind. Whether the coaching staff asks him to start a game or just sit on the bench without any hope of stepping onto the floor, Willie Green does it without ever once providing any resistance. After starting 60 games last season, Green only started 9 this season but never once complained. He understood his job and his role.
Willie Green didn't play much during the first 15 or so games of the season but when J.J. Redick went down, Doc Rivers turned to him in order to find an answer. During that 21 game stretch without Redick, Willie Green started seven games and did decently but not what he did last year. His shooting had waned off and his production wasn't as solid as you'd have hoped for. But he was always out there competing and doing his best for the team.
When J.J. Redick went down again later in the season, and Jamal Crawford missed time due to his own injuries, Willie Green was once again called upon to help. And, once again, he did his best to help the team through a tough time when they were without two of their top four scoring options. Once Redick and Crawford came back, Willie gradually faded back into bench obscurity but that was okay with him. He had done what was asked of him.
Willie Green isn't going to give you great production but he's going to give you effort. In today's NBA, any bench player who goes out there and competes while keeping their mouth shut and doing their best to help the team is a guy you want on your squad. It doesn't hurt that Willie Green and Chris Paul are also good friends. Much like last year, playing time was hard to come by for Willie since he had to not only share minutes with Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and Jamal Crawford but also with Darren Collison, who had a good year of his own. But Willie was always there. Ready when called.
Willie Green's greatest strength will always be his ability to shoot the ball and do so both coming off of screens or in catch-and-shoot situations. While his shooting did dip down a lot this season, we still saw glimpses of the Willie Green of old. After shooting nearly 43% from deep last season, Green was only able to muster a 34% mark this year. But his shooting is still his calling card.
Teamwork is another strength of Green's. He seems to do all the little things needed to help a team. While he's never been even an above-average rebounder, he still locates his man on the perimeter and boxes him out adequately enough to be noticed and helps his teammates gather rebounds. On top of that, Willie always seems to be moving around the court and trying his best to get open. He runs everything hard. Every curl, every action, he just runs it hard. In a weird way, he's a lot less talented version of J.J. Redick in that regard.
Lastly, his poise. Willie's a veteran in this game and never ever seems to get rattled by anything. For a guy that's quite often glued to the bench and then asked to step in to a big role, Willie never gets fazed. He's always calm, collected, and under control. Part of that is the veteran mentality that whatever happens, well, just happens. But another part of that is Willie himself. He's just a very even keel guy and takes things in stride. Mindset can get you a long way.
Willie's never been a great rebounder, as mentioned, and never been that good of a passer. He can make some passes here and there but he is what he is. And while he does have some sneaky athleticism out of a guy of his stature and age, Green does get outrebounded because guys just beat him to the ball. You live with this stuff if he's hitting his shots, though.
The other notable downside to Willie Green is his defense. While it's not terrible and definitely is passable at times, he's clearly not good on the defensive side of the floor. Adequate would be a term I'd use to describe it best but he can get lost on defense sometimes and beat on backdoor cuts, as well as getting hung up on a screen and being late to contest his man's jumper.
Future with the Clippers
The upside with Willie Green is quite interesting as far as his future with the team is concerned. If the Clippers go into next season and have an open spot on the squad that could be filled by a guy who won't complain and will do his job when called upon, then Willie Green could definitely still be here. Especially if they need a reserve guard for spot minutes here and there.
Another option is that because his contract is non-guaranteed for next season, Willie Green could just be out of a job if the Clippers decide not to pick up his contract. If they don't pick up his contract then they'd save roughly $1.5 million. So, this could be a viable option that the Clippers use.
And, lastly, the other option with Willie Green's non-guaranteed contract is that it could be a somewhat valuable trade piece to a team looking to just cut salary right away if the Clippers are able to pull off a larger sign-and-trade. A contract worth about $1.5 million might not seem like a big deal but to teams looking to cut costs, it could be a tad helpful.
Willie Green's future with the Clippers is somewhat murky but if he does come back then no one should complain. His valuable traits of professionalism, teamwork, and shooting all come in handy. He's a calming influence both in the locker room and on the court. It'll be interesting to see what happens but no matter what does happen, I thank Willie Green for all he's done and how he's handled himself.