2012-13 NBA Stats: 25.7 minutes, 10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, .462 FG%, .342 3P%, .744 FT%, 15.5 PER
Many believe that the true Sixth Man of the Year candidate on the Los Angeles Clippers wasn’t Jamal Crawford.
Theorizing the current criteria that puts one in the conversation to win the award, it makes sense why Crawford finished second to J.R. Smith in last year’s voting. But if we’re talking overall impact, Matt Barnes was the better overall player last season.
Last season Barnes was fourth on the Clippers in points (882 points total), fourth in rebounds (366), sixth in assists (123), third in three-pointers made (325) and fourth in steals (117). You couldn’t have asked for a better reserve.. He’ll never able to provide offense that Crawford does, but when judging all-around talent Barnes trumped Jamal last season.
Expect that to continue this season. This time there’s no pressure on Barnes to perform to a high level as he netted in a 3-year deal worth $11 million this past summer. That’s the biggest deal Barnes has received as a pro. Barnes is the type of player Doc Rivers will grow to love. He can defend the opposing teams best players for long spurts, hit the open three and is wiling to do whatever is asked of him. When it comes to reserve players currently on there roster, Barnes is as close as the Clippers will get to the impact Reggie Evans brought to this team during the 2011-12 season. Excluding Chris Paul, Barnes is the toughest player on this team. That may not be saying much, but it matters come playoff time whether speaking mentally or figuratively (as seen last season).
With Rivers expressing an interest to play a lot of small-ball this season, expect to see Matt’s best play in those lineups. With Jared Dudley now on the Clippers, that duo could wreak havocs on teams as the small forward-power forward combination. According to 82games.com, Barnes posted a defensive rating of 91.9 when lined up as the small forward. And small forwards opposite of him? They posted a PER of 14.8 which is just below the league average of 15.
With the bench not having a current identity due losing the players that made the bench what it was last season, it will be pivotal that Barnes sets the tone for this group on a nightly basis If he can get that done along with all the other things that got him paid this summer he’ll likely repeat his career-best season and be one of the best reserves in the league. Again.