In recent memory we have bared witness to some great players come into the league. They are strong, they are intelligent and they are game changers. Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki,Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and most recently Derrick Rose come to mind when we think about star rookies who have come into the league and set the NBA on fire. They are All-Stars and have all had major impacts on their team’s successes and failures. Whether it be Tim Duncan leading the Spurs to their Championship runs or Lebron James single handedly turning the cavaliers into a 60+ win team, all have one thing in common…Greatness.
But never in the past 20 years has a players career started off with such fanfare and hoopla as Los Angeles Clippers star Rookie Blake Griffin. No one is denying that Lebron had more hype and higher expectations. Lebron is an anomaly in this league. He is a player who possesses all the weapons needed to succeed and make players and his team better. What’s different with Blake Griffin is the growing legend he is creating for himself. Everyone knew what Lebron James was capable of. We watched him grow up seemingly since he was a child. Yes, we watched Griffin, but not as close and most only began taking notice during his time at Oklahoma when he played along side his brother Taylor as a Sooner.
Blake was a force in college and some serious expectations sat on his shoulders coming into the league as he was selected the 1st overall pick 2 seasons ago. Unfortunately, he injured his knee and required surgery that ended his rookie campaign before it started. Not playing allowed him to sit back and watch the leagues comings and gowings from a different angle. It looks as if he matured as a man while sitting on the bench. It’s not every day that a player gets to sit and learn what it takes to be successful in the league for an entire year before having the chance to suit up.
Now that Blake is in the league and running over the competition, its clear to see that he is a Champion in the making. His game is like no others in the league right now. No player in the league possesses the power, speed and finesse that Griffin shows night in and night out. Lebron would be the closest comparison, but again they are 2 totally different players. Where as Lebron is a much better distributor and play maker, more of a powerful Magic Johnson if you will, Blake is a finisher (not to say LBJ can’t put it down). Lebron has shown that he is on another level and can at any moment score at will or distribute the rock to a teammate for the score. No one is saying that Blake is better than Lebron, but what is being said is that Blake Griffin thus far has shown an uncanny ability to get to the rim at will and out muscle and out-jump anybody in the league.
He is constantly on the scoreboard for 20 and 10, and his highlight reel dunks are things only legends are made of. The Clippers have been rolling since all hands on deck have become healthy and the future finally looks bright for the “other” team in Los Angeles.
Blake’s play is reminiscent of a combination of Charles Barkley and Karl Malone. Those two beasts made a living out of rebounding. They too were able to use their power and speed to score at will and it looks like Blake Griffin has carved himself a similar path. Both Malone and Barkley were power players who each possessed speed and grace around the bucket including great jump shots that forced defences to cover them. And once they did, that opened up the floor and allowed for a pick’n'roll or an easy drive to the rim.
With averages of 23 points and 13 rebounds per game, he is hands down this season’s rookie of the year award winner. He has been dunking his way through this season and he is by far the biggest attraction at this year’s All-Star Game. He is participating in the Dunk Competition, The Rookie/Sophomore Game and was selected as a reserve in the actual All-Star game. That alone is proof enough that Blake-mania is taking over the league.
Charles Barkley never won a championship. Karl Malone needed a zip code change to L.A in order to finally win one. Blake Griffin, in his 1st season in the league is showing the skills and maturity to dominate this league for years to come. Together with a great young nucleus of players (Eric Gordon, Deandre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, Randy Foye, Al-Farouq Aminu) the Clippers have the chance to be a great if not excellent team in the very near future.
As for Griffin, I wouldn’t be shocked if he came away from the All-Star weekend with a dunk title, rookie/sophomore game MVP title as well as the actual All-Star game MVP award as well.
He has shown that his pedigree is that of a champion, and his play has shown why he is going to take the Clippers to new heights and will help further make basketball relevant again in Clipper-land.