Willie Green key stats:
I wrote a feature on Willie Green just last week after he started at shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers in the first pre-season game. There's not that much more so say about Green, a consummate pro who is not expected to need to do a lot for the Clippers this season -- but who will be ready to contribute in any way he can if called upon.
Green is third on the depth chart at shooting guard this season behind J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford. He'll probably be fourth on the depth chart at small forward based on the way he's filled in there during pre-season with Matt Barnes and Reggie Bullock yet to play. He's also likely to be the third string point guard. Green is the Clippers' equivalent of a utility infielder, filling in wherever they need him, and doing an admirable job in the process.
Bear in mind that although Green is pretty far down in the LAC pecking order, he has been a full time starter in this league -- including, for all intents and purposes, last season on a 56-win Clippers team. And while he's never been elite at any particular thing, he's always been solid -- and he's quickly becoming elite as a three point shooter. Green hit a career high 71 three pointers last season in 166 attempts, a .428 success rate. That was the tenth best percentage in the league among players with at least 100 three point attempts.
A team with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin is going to generate open three point looks for other players, a fact that Doc Rivers is counting on with his newly revamped roster featuring shooters like Redick, Jared Dudley, Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens. That's a big reason why Green enjoyed a career year from deep playing next to Paul. He remains a very good option as a shooter, and he won't hurt the team in other ways -- he'll always play solid defense, he'll take care of the ball.
With the Clippers a little over the luxury tax threshold and Green ostensibly expendable, the Clippers could theoretically dump his salary on a team under the cap and avoid the tax this season. Let's hope they don't. Getting under the tax threshold that way is feasible, but only barely, and would lock the Clippers into a 13 man roster without any possibility of signing another player during the season without making another move. Green still has value to this team, as he showed last season stepping into the starting lineup and hitting threes -- at $1.4M he's a bargain. The Clippers should commit to the luxury tax this season and put their best lineup on the floor. If everyone is healthy, that lineup won't include Willie Green -- but when the inevitable injuries occur, we know he'll be ready.