You think you know what Blake Griffin's about.
Perhaps you saw the video of his pre-draft workout before the 2009 NBA
draft. Or you heard about his work habits during his long
road back to the court from the broken kneecap that cost him his rookie season,
when he started rehabilitation sessions long before the secretaries got to the
Clippers' headquarters. You thought Griffin was about effort.
Then the 2010-11 season started. Griffin's first career points came on a dunk.
And it seemed as if every field goal since then was via the same, spectacular
fashion. You thought Griffin was about excitement.
Both good guesses, but they don't capture his essence.
If you really think about it, you'll realize the operative word for Griffin is
We had our first clue in this Clippers website video of Griffin and teammate
DeAndre Jordan hitting trick shots all over Griffin's backyard. He banked the ball
off a wall; bounced the ball off his upstairs deck, over a fence and through the hoop;
and hit a shot from the far side of the yard. He was creative enough to find every
way to make a shot on his property.
You can see it in games as well. How many other players would think the best
path to a fast-break dunk would be to blaze past a defender, spin into the lane,
keep him on your hip, then rise up over him? Most minds don't think that way.
Certainly not most minds attached to a 6-foot-10, 250-pound body.
If you combine it all you get someone creating excitement and opportunity
from effort and ability. It's an awe-inspiring mix, and could lead to him winning the NBA
Rookie of the Year award.
I picked John Wall as the favorite because the Washington Wizards' point
guard would have the ball in his hands to start almost every possession. Wall has an
advantage that's similar to this Lamar Odom description of Derrick Rose: "He's their
first option, and he has the ball first." Griffin was dependent on an ineffective Baron
Davis and an inexperienced Eric Bledsoe at point guard. It's also easier to double-
team Griffin at the forward spot than it is a point guard on the perimeter.
Except Griffin creates a way to get his own shots: offensive rebounds. Snag
one of those things and all of a sudden you're looking at a point-blank shot, often
with one or even no defenders around. Griffin averages four offensive rebounds
per game, although it seems he sometimes gets that many on a single trip down the
floor. But those second chances help him rank second among rookies in field goal
attempts per game; and if you round up his 14.7 shots per game and round down
Wall's 15.3 they are even.
Going into Wednesday's games they were exactly even in scoring average, at
18.9 per game, the best among rookies. Griffin has the rookie rebounding lead all to
himself; his 11 per night are four better than runner-up DeMarcus Cousins.
More impressive than Griffin's stats is what he is doing in the NBA universe.
He has created a compelling reason to watch the Clippers. With his frenzied style, on
any given play he's a threat to break the rim or break a bone. They should call him
Break Griffin. He's a mixture of a young Charles Barkley and Evel Knievel. Did you
ever think we'd see that combination?
Griffin has created a new basketball paradigm.