The buildup at the beginning of the NBA season was dominated by one story, the Miami Heat. Everyone, myself included, shared their opinion on the team, voiced doubts and created a buzz that no team has had since Shaq and Kobe were acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers. However, after their near 0.500 start, the Heat went 23 of 24, silencing their critics, and made winning so routine people began to look for other stories in the NBA. But is that the best story that’s been found so far?
For me, it has to be the emergence of Blake Griffin. He is turning the franchise most synonymous with losing in the entire NBA into a winner. He has put up a double-double in approximately 25 straight games and has lead the Los Angeles Clippers to one of the best records over the past month. He has more explosion in his jump than anyone in the league, and he’s 6 feet 10 inches.
It’s like someone put J.R. Smith’s raw athletic ability into Chris Webber’s body and let the beast loose. Griffin is a regular on SportsCenter‘s Top 10. His dunks are so freakish that people are actually excited for a dunk contest this year, and there really hasn’t been a great dunk contest since Vince Carter won.
Griffin is so good that some are speculating whether or not he is an all-star starter. Just to put this in perspective, if he does start it, means he beat out all but one of the following names: Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitski, Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan, Carmelo Anthony and Zach Randolph. That’s pretty good company if you ask me, especially for someone playing in his first season. With the way he has torn up the league, I wouldn’t complain if he was starting.
The key to Griffin’s development is how good his shot becomes. He has already proved he can knock down the jumper, but needs to extend his range a little. Other than that and working on new post moves for years to come, there really isn’t much flaw in his game. He’ll get better on the defensive end the more he plays, and with his athletic ability I don’t have many concerns that he can’t be a great on-ball defender, think Kevin Garnett. I can see him being an all star for more than a decade, possibly being one of the top power forwards to play the game. I realize how high of a praise that is, but look at what he has done so far in half a season. Let’s just hope his career isn’t derailed by injuries.
If Griffin chooses to stay with the Clippers when the time comes, he could turn them into a championship contender. In two or three years, the Lakers might not be the dominant team in L.A. If the Clippers can add to the core of Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, two of the best young players at their positions, a deep playoff run isn’t out of the question. It will be a very weird day when Blake and the Clippers are playing and the Lakers are done for the season.