0

Top 50 NBA Players: #20 Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin
Resume: 18.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 32.5 minutes, 426 free throw attempts (9th in league), 54% FG, and 66% FT… Team record in games played: 55-25 (1-1 without)… Playoffs: 13.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 26.3 minutes, 45% FG, 80% FT… All-Star, 2nd Team All-NBA

Welcome to the Top 20 everybody! I’m glad you made it. I know that it’s been a long ride—in fact, it’s been one whole calendar month since we started with this countdown if you can believe it—so in order to keep your interest, let’s get things going with a player who is always able to stir up some banter. Seemingly overnight Blake Griffin became one of the most polarizing, and for some reason, hated players in the league. It wasn’t too long ago when NBA fans were drooling over his potential, laughing at his commercials, and anxiously waiting for his next posterization of an unassuming center. He made the Clippers relevant after a couple decades of futility, turned Timofey Mozgov into a household name (Or at least a Twitter trend), and jumped over an effing car. (Look, I know he only jumped over the hood of the car, but I’m trying to make the point that back in the day we all loved Blake Griffin; so for the sake of this write up, let’s all pretend he completely cleared that sumbitch.)

Mar 3, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) and Oklahoma City Thunder center Hasheem Thabeet (34) fight for a rebound at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Although it’s not as big of a mystery as Hasheem Thabeet’s patch of blondish/orange hair, it is puzzling to think about how Griffin’s squeaky clean image has been tarnished so quickly. I asked my cousin Pauley, a life-long NBA fan and one of the biggest Blake Griffin haters I know, why he disliked Blake Griffin. His exact words were:

“No post moves, no go to moves. He’s a cry baby. An overrated cry baby.”

Well, then! Sure, his offensive game still isn’t completely polished, he plays with an annoying heir of arrogance, his tendency to flop and complain about calls is frustrating—please keep all of your “LeBron flops and whines all the time you jackass!” comments to yourself, thank you— and his playoff shortcomings are really difficult to ignore. But there is a whole lot of venom being directed towards Griffin, primarily because he, in some people’s minds, is overrated.

The funny thing is I think we’ve reached that odd point where Griffin became so overrated that he now may actually be underrated. Remember, we are talking about one of the most exciting, marketable, and athletic players ever. Yes, I purposely said ever. Maybe he’s just a product of the Twitter/YouTube generation, but in all likelihood Griffin will be remembered long after he leaves the NBA. For his sake it will hopefully be for more than a bunch of cheesy commercials, dunk montages, and heated debates about his place in the NBA. Griffin has had more success than most through three seasons. He’s a 20-10 per night guy who twice has been named a 2nd Team All-NBA performer all while still developing a consistent jump hook and mid-range jump shot.

Those things will come sooner rather than later and when they do we’ll see a new Blake Griffin. For now you could marvel at some of the things that are less often talked about, like his ball handling (at the top of the big man power rankings), his passing (right near the top of those aforementioned rankings), and his ability make 20,000 people stand up in unison, scream at the top of their lungs, high five each other, and make the same face they would if they smelled the worst rotten egg fart ever. If that’s not skill then I don’t know what is.

sonnygiuliano