Culture of Hoops

Blake Griffin rises to the cream of the NBA crop

Image courtesy of Kimberly N./Flickr.

Image courtesy of Kimberly N./Flickr.

DeAndre Jordan is a good candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, Chris Paul is Chris Paul, and Blake Griffin looks like he’s becoming one of the best power forwards in the league today. The Los Angeles Clippers have been good to Griffin, and he’s been good for them. A year or two ago, many were writing him off as nothing but a spectacular dunker that does quirky commercials, but now he’s proving that he’s much more than that. Griffin is rising to the cream of the crop in the league.

Having Doc Rivers as a coach has helped, along with having amazing teammates, but getting the chance to lead the charge when CP3 was sidelined really helped Griffin evolve even more. While Paul was out with a separated shoulder, Griffin provided the Clips with a shoulder to lean on, leading them to a 12-6 record. He’s been on the block, showing his advanced post-move IQ, knocking down mid-range jumpers with confidence, and grabbing boards like a thief. His weaknesses from a year or two ago have now become his strengths. He’s even improved from the charity stripe, knocking down a career-best 70.2 percent of his shots from the free-throw line. Now that CP3 is back, Griffin’s job will just become easier; although, we’ll need to wait a bit for him to shake the rust off. They have the potential to make each other more special when they’re together, in the vein of Karl Malone and John Stockton.

It’s finally happened. Blake Griffin is no longer overrated. During the month that CP3 was sidelined, Griffin had some amazing games, including an enormous effort against the Miami Heat in which he dropped 43 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and dished out 6 assists. Leading into the All-Star Game, Griffin was already playing spectacular basketball, and he dropped 38 points in New Orleans just in case a few people out there haven’t been keeping up with his rise during the season. His confidence is something to admire, especially because it isn’t mixed with any arrogance. He’s not trying to rub it into anyone’s face, but he is aware that his game is something to talk about.

Recently, he was interviewed on the Jay Mohr Sports Show, where Mohr asked him who he thought was the best power forward in the NBA today. Griffin simply said: “I’ve got to go with myself.” I’m sure plenty of people out there could easily agree. Before CP3 went down this season, he was considered an improving player that benefits from the talent of one of the best point guards in the league. However, Griffin just got even better when CP3 went down. Right now, Griffin is up there with LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love as the top power forwards in the game. In a league where talented big men aren’t as plentiful as before, it’s nice to add a new addition to the “who’s the best big man?” conversation.

Big Blake dropped 35 points and snatched 12 rebounds against the San Antonio Spurs after the All-Star break. Now that CP3 is back in the picture, he may cool down a bit, but now we know he’s capable of carrying a team on his back. The tripod of Jordan, Paul, and Griffin has never looked so menacing. Although the Clippers’ best three players should be revving their engines in tune pretty soon, the supporting cast still needs to pick up the pace. They recently dropped Antawn Jamison, and picked up Hedo Turkoglu, but they’re still pretty thin on the bench up front. We’ve got the second half of the season left to watch, and all eyes are on the Clippers to finish strong and go deep in the playoffs at the very least.

In his fourth year in the NBA, Blake Griffin has never been better. The Clippers have improved because of him, and now their key pieces have fully flourished, giving them all the potential to make a great run in the postseason. Now, when you think of Griffin, you won’t immediately think “the dunker.” The dunk is officially considered just a part of his game, rather than his entire arsenal.

Featured image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

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