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Clippers.com: The Case for Blake

Clippers.com: The Case for Blake

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Published by Dennis Lin
Column on Blake Griffin's All-Star Game candidacy
Column on Blake Griffin's All-Star Game candidacy

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Published by: Dennis Lin on Jul 01, 2011
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The Case for Blake
Dennis Lin, January 31, 2011 Following the Clippers' 99-92 win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 16, no less an authority than Kobe Bryant talked about Blake Griffin's prospects for the All-Star game. Griffin had just shrugged off a miserable first half to score 16 of his 18 points in the final 12:31, powering his way past the Lakers' vaunted frontcourt as he led the Clippers to a comeback victory over the two-time defending NBA champions. “He should be an All-Star,” said Bryant, who will be playing in his 13th All-Star game on Feb. 20. “It's a joke for people not to consider him an All-Star … What more do you want from a power forward? What more do you want from him?” You could pose that same question to the l5 head coaches in the Western Conference, each of whom has until 3 p.m. on Tuesday to submit his selections for the West's All-Star reserves (coaches cannot vote for their own players). The starters have already been determined via fan voting: Bryant and Chris Paul at guard, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony at forward, and Yao Ming at center. League commissioner David Stern will be picking a replacement for Yao, who is out for the season after undergoing ankle surgery. That leaves Griffin to vie with the rest of the conference's biggest stars for one of the seven remaining spots on the West roster. His competition at the forward spot includes the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Lamar Odom and Zach Randolph. Each of those candidates has built a compelling case for a bid, but it's possible only a couple of them will actually receive one. Such is the reality of the All-Star game, which is always bound to be missing multiple deserving players.

Yet with each passing game, the idea of leaving Griffin out of the annual contest seems more and more ludicrous. In just over half a season, the rookie power forward has turned skeptical adults into fawning children, non-Clippers fans into devoted followers and fellow players into wide-eyed spectators. Griffin's exhilarating, above-the-rim style looks and feels perfectly suited for the All-Star game. That's even before you consider the historic, all-around numbers he is putting up, even while dealing with a constant barrage of double-teams. Still, there are other players, who, if not as electrifying, can lay claim to their own impressive accomplishments, including a longer track record. A crowded field won't make things any easier, either. Instead of looking at how Griffin stacks up against every challenger, let's focus on the two most likely to stand in the way of his selection. Griffin vs. Nowitzki In the history of the All-Star game, coaches have consistently opted for well-established stars on winning teams over younger upstarts playing for less successful franchises. Nowitzki qualifies as one of the former. Not only is he the best player on Dallas, one of the league's elite squads, the sweet-shooting big man has
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nine All-Star selections and one MVP title to his name. This season, Nowitzki has put himself in the conversation for another MVP award, averaging 23 points a game while shooting 52 percent from the field, nearly 40 percent from 3-point range and almost 87 percent at the free-throw line. That amounts to an astoundingly efficient 61 true shooting percentage, a career-best. To further strengthen Nowitzki's case, the Mavericks started the season 24-5 before he went down with a knee injury, went 2-7 in the nine games he missed, and have gone 5-3 since his return. No matter how gaudy Griffin's statistics may be or how spectacular his highlights are, the hefty résumé of Nowitzki remains impossible to ignore. If it were to come down to Griffin and Nowitzki, most coaches would be hard-pressed to choose the rookie, and rightfully so. Edge: Nowitzki Griffin vs. Love This one might present the most intriguing dilemma. Both youngsters are having seasons for the ages. Griffin is putting together one of the best rookie campaigns of all time while Love is on pace to become the first player to finish with averages of 20 points and 15 rebounds since Hall of Famer Moses Malone. Love does have a few advantages: he's had two more years of playing experience, those rebounding totals are simply incredible and that 31-31 game he unleashed might be the performance of the season. But Griffin counters with a formidable arsenal of his own. To begin with, he actually isn't that far behind in rebounding, as he's fourth in the NBA at nearly 13 boards a game and just four double-doubles behind Love, with 38. The rookie power forward has led the Clippers to a 18-28 record, not a pretty mark but respectable considering they started the season 1-13 and have since defeated Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Chicago, Miami and the Lakers. Meanwhile, Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves are second to last in the league, at 11-36. Then there are the NBA season-best 47 points on 19-for-24 shooting Griffin dropped on the Indiana Pacers less than 24 hours after the Clippers' victory over the Lakers. Perhaps most important, the Clippers are 2-1 this season against the Timberwolves, avenging a close loss with two resounding blowouts. In the Clippers' two wins, Griffin clearly outplayed Love, and you could argue that the latter didn't play much better in Minnesota's lone victory. The results of these head-to-head matchups should factor into the coaches' decisions, giving Griffin the slight nod in this discussion. Edge: Griffin Conclusion Griffin may not have the upper hand on a perennial All-Star of Nowitzki's caliber, but that may represent his biggest obstacle to playing at Staples Center on Feb. 20. If the coaches collectively put Griffin ahead of Love, probably his next toughest competition, he should be a lock to join the roster. This is not to dismiss Aldridge, Randolph and the rest of the Western Conference's contending forwards. They may be having fine seasons of their own, but none of them can boast the cachet of Nowitzki or the pure numbers of Love. And though rookies have historically had a difficult time getting into the All-Star game – even LeBron James didn't make the cut in 2004 – Griffin has truly been good enough to break the mold, a la Tim Duncan, who averaged 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists and was an All-Star as a first-year player in 1997-98. Griffin has actually been even more impressive statistically – 22.6 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists a night – to complement a flair for the game tailor-made for an audience with the league's brightest stars.

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Monty · 18 weeks ago Blake is putting up numbers at power forward. He is consistantly being double and tripple teamed. He is receiving the type of attention from opponents that is generally reserved for the teams feature offensive player. It is amazing to watch him play as hard as he does with the majority of his opponents intentionally playing him physical. Dispite the Clippers early record, no one in the NBA hs been more consistant. Report Reply Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Login to OpenID

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