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Thursday, January 20, 2011

How Does Blake Griffin Match Up With The Greats?


At 6,10", 251lbs, the Los Angeles Clippers rookie phenom Blake Griffin is doing things on the court that no one has ever seen before. He's the new human highlight film. As I type this, he has recorded 27 straight double-doubles and shows no signs of stopping. Currently, he is averaging 22.5 ppg and 12.8 rpg and his per game statistics have improved every month! After recording a season high 47pts and 14 boards against the Pacers on MLK Day, I began to wonder. Who does he remind me of? Names like Shawn Kemp, Chris Webber, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and Dominique Wilkins come to mind. I started to compare and contrast these players with Griffin in my mind.

Height: 6,10" Weight: 230-260

Shawn Kemp was a raw talent who came into the NBA at 19. By the time he was Blake Griffin's current age, he was averaging roughly 15 ppg and 10 rpg. More than just a dunker, Kemp sported a consistent 17 ft jumper that he used as a weapon to keep defenders honest. He was also a better shot blocker than Griffin hands down but those are the only two thing that "The Reignman" had on The Blake Show. Kemp only averaged 20 ppg once in his career with a career average of 14.6 ppg and 8.6 rpg respectively. Those number would have been significantly higher had he either maintained a decent playing weight or simply retired 3 years earlier. We will always remember those thunderous dunks though!

Height" 6,10" Weight: 245
Chris Webber came out of college known for making that infamous "no timouts" call but throughout his career showed an IQ for the game and usually made the smart basketball play. He was an excellent athlete until suffering knee injuries later in his career. At his best, Webber never averaged both 22 and 12. He did however pull down 13 rpg in in 98-99 as well as score 22 ppg or more for a season 5 times. In comparison to Griffin, Webber was a far more accomplished passer and had a much more reliable jump shot. Webber was also an considerably better shot blocker, averaging 1.4 for his career. If you look at Webber's playoff statistics, his scoring, scoring percentage, rebounds, and free throw percentage are all lower than his regular season numbers. This separates the all-time greats from Chris Webber in my opinion.

Height: 6,9" Weight: 250

Their build is almost identical! The comparisons are scary. Early in his career, the Mailman was known as a ferocious dunker and an excellent rebounder. Malone never was much of a shot blocker and wasn't particularly known as a shut down defender but rather made his living stripping the ball from opponents as they attempted to drive past. He had a knack for frustrating defenders with a versatile repertoire of finesse as well as power moves that often led to baskets or a trip to the free throw line. In comparison to Griffin, Malone was a far superior jump shooter who was comfortable shooting from 18 feet in. However, 2 time MVP Karl Malone only averaged both 22 & 12 ONCE in his Hall of Fame career. Hmm.

Height: 6,6" Weight: 252

Barkley did more with less underneath the boards and was more of a scoring threat than anyone else who came to mind. Listed as 6,6", Barkley was closer to 6,4 and 1/2"  in socks. His career averages are 22.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 3.9 ast, and 1.5 stl respectively. Those are the numbers of a first ballot HOFer. What's interesting to me is, Barkley's numbers in his 2nd season are almost identical to Griffin's this year! That means that he's trending in the right direction. Although he never won a championship, Barkley did win a gold medal and an MVP.

Height: 6,8" Weight: 225
 Dominique Wilkins played small forward but had a BIG game! He was energetic. He could jump out of the gym. He wreaked havoc on the offensive glass. Teams would try to double team him but he didn't stay in one place on the court for too long. Dominique Wilkins was a special, "once in a generation" player who unfortunately didn't really get the credit that he deserved until recently. He should have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. Wilkins won a Euroleague championship but never one in the NBA. His above the rim style of play lives on in Blake Griffin.

Career stats: 24.5 ppg 6.7 rpg. He was known as "The Human Highlight Film". Here's why...

What more does Blake Griffin have to do? For starters, Griffin needs to improve his defensive stats. He's a pesky, "hustle" defender but he doesn't tally many steals or blocks per game. If only charges taken were an official stat. His fg% is excellent but next year teams are going to be savvy to his 2 move repertoire and will try to take away his spin move. He will need to develop depth and consistency in his jump shot. He's so elusive on backdoor cuts and impossible to guard when he's running the lane without the ball that it makes for an easy living. Blake has the ability to average 16 point per game from running the break and second chance opportunities with his offensive rebounding abilities. He has made 4 out of his 8 3pt attempts which is good and has proven that he can knock down the deep ball but is not comfortable enough to shoot them in volume. That shows wisdom and restraint. Blake Griffin is a smart basketball player and there is no telling how good he can be. Its fun to speculate for now and enjoy the excitement that he's brought to the NBA. Since when have people been this excited to watch the Los Angeles Clippers? Who knows if he will ever be able to lead the Clip ship to a championship? Ultimately, that will be the deciding factor on whether or not he goes down as an all-time great or just a really talented player who could never get over that hump.


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