My buddy Don over at With Malice... started the NBA "Unsung Player Day" last April 5th, and it looks to be an ongoing celebration of the NBA's most unhearalded players. In case you are not familiar, here are the parameters in which Don has outlined for potential candidates:
"Yup, I'm declaring April 5th ‘Unsung Player Day'... we should recognize the guys who toil and work hard every day, for no recognition. Well, today's your day. In reality, these guys are just as responsible for making the NBA what it is today - every team needs role-players, guys to come on and give that valuable 2-5 minutes. Without them, there is no NBA. I would encourage NBA bloggers to put up an ‘unsung player' on their blog on April 5th. (Original linking piece)"
(To see all the unsung players submitted by bloggers from around the NBA, check out With Malice... right HERE.)
Clearly, the first person that comes to mind for the Wolves is Brian Cardinal. He's about as unsung as it gets. (He rocks on Twitter though!) Unfortunately for him he plays waaaaaaaaaaay more than 2-5 minute stints, and definitely more than 10 minutes per game (thanks for nothing McHale!) So, he's out. Upon further review, pretty much everyone on the Wolves plays regular rotation minutes. I won't discuss the idiocy merits of that concept at this point in time, but I do know that this year we won't have to offer up dregs like Greg Buckner and Michael Doleac. (Oh the humanity.) Instead, this year we would like to present to you.... Shelden Williams!
Now, Shelden may play a tad bit more than the requisite 2-5 minute stints (in the games he actually plays in), but really, we Wolves bloggers don't have a whole lot to work with here. I mean, look at our roster. Anyways, if you average out Shelden's total minutes over the number of games in the season, then maybe we're in business. He's surely averaging less than 10 minutes per game. (You'd be surprised how limiting the parameters are for those of us that actually abide by the "rules.") Poor Shelden toils away on the bench, despite the fact that he was the 5th overall pick in the entire draft a few years ago! Not playing in most games does not deter his drive and focus, because he knows that at any time (literally) Coach McHale might call his number. He could be a DNP-CD for five straight games, and then start the next against Shaq. Or he might come off the bench for crucial (just kidding) stints in all the big games we've been playing lately (definitely just kidding.)
And then BAM, out of nowhere he drops this box score on us! In what was easily his greatest contribution of the year, he dropped 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting, along with 5 boards in an exhausting 23 minutes of play (again, averaging it out and he's less than 10 minutes per game this season.) The reason this contribution was so great, was because he helped us to beat the Utah Jazz by 1 point last night. For those of you that don't know, if the Jazz finish with less than a top 8 record this year, they keep the first round pick they owe us. Next year that pick is only protected through the top 15 spots, so we'd almost certainly get it in the 2010 draft. This is HUGE because we don't need 4 draft picks in what is most likely one of the weakest drafts in years. Hell, the Wolves have trouble integrating 1 rookie into their rotations, let alone FOUR! So there you have it, Shelden Williams is a beast.
He's also a fitting candidate for the "Unsung Player" award because he's not even the most famous professional basketball player in his own immediate family. That honor goes to none other than his wife (how?!?!) Candace Parker:
(They are actually married)
Despite the fact that she's at least 4 or 5 months pregnant, she could still destroy beat him in a game of 1 on 1 basketball. I'd guess they didn't even play before she was pregnant, because that matchup would be so unfair. Candace v. Shelden is akin to LeBron v. Wally. You just know it wouldn't go well for Shelden. So anyways, I don't think there is a player in the entire NBA more "unsung" than our very own Shelden Williams. If the above is not enough to deserve this award, then I don't know what is.
Plus he has a huuuuuge forehead.