Quantcast 2010 Los Angeles Clippers Basketball: Blake Griffin - Rookie of the Year?

 

Why Blake Griffin will be Rookie of the Year

 

 

After sitting out a full season following a knee injury, Blake Griffin made his long-awaited debut for the Los Angeles Clippers and left everyone with a taste of what they can expect this season.

Griffin tallied 20 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists against the Portland Trail Blazers and did so in spectacular fashion, grabbing several rebounds for follow slams and connecting on alley-oops. It got so out of hand early that the ESPN crew working the game for TV could barely contain themselves.

And it must have been tough for Portland fans to watch as their former No. 1 pick, Greg Oden, sat on the bench in street clothes as he continues to recover from last season’s injury, failing to generate the same excitement and optimism after sitting out his own rookie year.

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The Clippers would drop the game 98-88 in the end, but that fact did not matter to most. Instead, the talk was all about Griffin and for good reason. He proved to everyone that he was not all hype, that he was deserving of being the No. 1 overall pick last season, even though Tyreke Evans showed great promise while winning Rookie of the Year in Griffin’s absence.

However, it appears that Griffin is on track to bring home the hardware this season, thus becoming the first Clipper since Terry Cummings in 1983 to do so. Not since Elton Brand in 1999-00 has a rookie averaged numbers like Griffin posted in his first game. It remains to be seen whether he can keep up this pace for a full season, but he has a rare blend of skills reminiscent of a young Shawn Kemp or Amar’e Stoudemire — athletic, strong, and mobile big men. Those skills come along in a player only so often, and there is no one from the 2010 draft class who will put up numbers that shine quite as brightly as Griffin’s will.

John Wall, the 2010 No. 1 pick, struggled against the Orlando Magic in his debut, and the team he has around him in Washington will make it difficult for him to rack up assists — a vital category for a point guard in search of national recognition.

Evan Turner is currently coming off the bench in Philadelphia, meaning he probably won’t see enough action to post Rookie of the Year numbers. Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins may end up platooning with Samuel Dalembert at the center position in Sacramento, and no other rookie seems ready to make an immediate impact.

In other words, this award is Griffin’s to lose. He had a full season to learn many of the nuances of NBA basketball simply by watching and paying attention in practice and video sessions. He has a comfort level with his teammates off the court, which should help the comfort level on the court develop quickly. And he has all the physical skills it takes to be successful in the NBA.

Clippers fans will have much to be optimistic about in the coming years, with a young, talented nucleus of Griffin, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Chris Kaman to build around. Griffin may even earn an All-Star birth in the West this year if he keeps up the production, and if he does, he had better start making some room in his trophy case.

 

By Eric Lorenz
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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