Blake Griffin, the Spurs, and other idle-time musings
A lot can happen in two months in the NBA. Here’s a sampling.
Blake Griffin soft?
Los Angeles Clippers rookie forward Blake Griffin may be an imposing combination of power and athleticism, but that does not mean he is tough.
Case in point: Griffin was going about his business in the first half of the Clippers’ Dec. 26 game against the Suns, torturing a Phoenix front line of Channing Frye and Marcin Gortat with quickness and jaw-dropping dunks en route to 18 points and nine rebounds.
Then the Suns moved Grant Hill onto Griffin in the second half, and the 38-year-old battled Griffin into an underwhelming second-half performance — 10 points and three rebounds before fouling out.
Even more telling was the obvious frustration Hill caused the rookie. Griffin had little room to breathe, let alone move around the court. He had to battle the tenacious Hill for every inch and even resorted to flopping against a player he had by two inches and 26 pounds in order to draw calls from the officials. The smile he had in the first half was replaced by a permanent scowl, conversations with teammates shifted to conversations with officials, and he even charged at Mickael Pietrus after Pietrus committed a hard foul (but not a flagrant as it was called) on Al-Farouq Aminu.
A player who has put numerous other players on soon-to-be best-selling posters should not be flailing, scowling, and grousing as much as he was against a smaller player; power forwards are supposed to put small forwards in the torture chamber and destroy them in the paint.
Until Griffin learns how to do that, he can expect many more matchups like the one he faced against Phoenix.
Spurs for MVP
Can an entire team be named MVP? If it can, then the San Antonio Spurs are in great shape. With a record of 25-4 through their first 29 games, a Spurs player should definitely be in the MVP conversation…but which one?
Manu Ginobili is averaging just 19.4 points and 4.9 assists, Tony Parker is averaging 17.7 points and 7 assists, and the old standby, Tim Duncan, is putting up just 13.9 points and 9.6 rebounds.
San Antonio is not winning because of one player; it is winning as a team. Nine players on the team are averaging at least 16 minutes per game (not including rookie James Anderson, who has appeared in just six games due to injury), six players are averaging at least 8 points per game, and the team is shooting a franchise-best 40.8 percent from the 3-point line.
One of the biggest reasons for the resurgence of the Spurs is Richard Jefferson, who dedicated himself over the summer to finding a way to fit into the system after struggling last year. He is averaging 14.1 points on 49.1 percent shooting from the field (and a career-best 45.5 percent on 3-pointers).
He is filling the role (at least offensively) of Bruce Bowen as a spot-up shooter in the corner, and in doing so has given Spurs fans reason to get their hopes up once again.
Evan-escence hurting Philly’s chances
The No. 2 overall pick in last summer’s draft, Evan Turner has been lost in the shadows of fellow prime-time rookies Griffin and John Wall. Heck, he’s been lost in the shadow of Landry Fields for crying out loud.
Turner is averaging just 6.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 27 games (12 starts) this season. Even worse, he is shooting 39.2 percent from the field, 74 percent from the free throw line, and a paltry 15.4 percent from 3-point range.
Turner drew comparisons to a young Grant Hill before the draft after averaging 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 6 assists during his junior year at Ohio State, but he has disappointed many observers with his play. Doug Collins tried starting him to try to develop him, yet that proved to be ineffective.
The Sixers could really use Turner’s versatility and talents, especially if Andre Iguodala is moved by the trade deadline. Until then, Philadelphia will continue to hold out hope that Turner is just a late bloomer and not another Adam Morrison.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest held his auction for his 2010 NBA Championship ring Dec. 25, with all proceeds going to help mental health awareness and treatment for kids. He raised around $500,000, but one person who bought raffle tickets may surprise people — Phil Jackson.
Artest’s coach on the Lakers, Jackson apparently bought a few tickets to help support Artest’s cause. Jackson did not win the raffle.
Everybody knows Jackson would like to win another ring before he calls it quits — just didn’t think he was trying to win it in a raffle.
Need a big?
After the Orlando Magic traded Gortat to the Suns, the team was left with a significant lack of size outside of Dwight Howard, and the rumors started almost immediately of candidates to fill that void.
The early names included Earl Barron, Ronny Turiaf, and former Magic player Tony Battie.
If the Magic are looking for retreads to stack behind Howard, then here are some other names to consider: Adonal Foyle, Andrew DeClercq, or Pat Burke.
Or how about Greg Ostertag? He wants to make a comeback in the NBA, and after all the yelling he endured with Jerry Sloan in Utah, he should be able to adapt to Stan Van Gundy’s style just fine.
By: Eric Lorenz
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