On draft day in 2009, it looked like the end of a career and not the beginning of one when the Clipper’s drafted the sophomore forward from Oklahoma first overall. However, it is an absolute anomaly in Clippers history that they have gotten it right to this point; and full credit to Blake Griffin for making the frightful Clippers franchise look good.
It’s not always the indicator, but the fat new contract extension Blake Griffin signed is proof that he is a superstar in the league. Just ask superstar Rashard Lewis whose $20 million per year was the NBA’s second highest earner.
Griffin’s contract was signed with very little Dwight Howard effect. There was some debate about how it would go down, but Griffin never publicly wavered, and with very little fan-fare, Griffin tweeted that he was going to be a Clipper for 5 more years. That’s 95 million reasons, misguided or not to return to the Clippers, to respect Blake Griffin’s approach as a professional.
One of the big problems with the NBA is that it’s played at ¾ speed. But that’s with no fault of Griffin’s. 60% of the time Blake Griffin is always the most exciting player in the NBA. He plays with so much pace and force. That is his biggest strength, but it’s also his biggest weakness. In order for Griffin to take that next step to superstar, or to make the Clippers a whole lot better, he needs to be a lot more efficient. Regrettably that means playing a lot more like the rest of the league. He needs to lower his effort level so that he can score, rebound, and defend at the highest level for longer, and give his teammates the best opportunity to succeed.
Also up in the air for this season is how he will adapt to the NBA’s new policy on flopping. Per NBA handbook rule 16.5.b any player, offensive or defensive, deemed to have “flopped” by a biased 3rd party will heretofore be subject to a fine of ever increasing value per offense. Griffin was accused of flopping a lot, and not just taking charges either. Most of those accusations were on the offensive end. But Blake also has taken a beating because people do not want to be Mozgov’d or Perk’d or Gasol’d.
There is a lot of pressure and expectations with this Clippers team, much of which is self-imposed. And to this point in his career Griffin has dealt with all of it. He works hard on the court, is pretty funny in the KIA commercials he stars in, and looks like he hasn’t found his ceiling yet, and really isn’t in sight of it. He might jump over that ceiling when he gets to it. In the meantime though, he’s number 14 on our list.