Sick of arguing with your friends about who is the best player in the NBA? Leading into the ’13-14 NBA Season, Ball So Hard will be putting an end to the debate. Here is the decisive list of the 50 best NBA players.
Note: predictions are for the up coming season and rank players on how they will perform in the ’13-14 season.
No. 17, Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin can dunk.
Let’s all just get that out of our system before we start analysing Griffin’s game.
The NBA hasn’t seen a player with such a disregard for gravity since Toronto fans still cheered Vince Carter.
We get it. Blake Griffin can jump really (really, really, really high).
It’s only worth two points, but Blake turned around an entire franchise with his penchant for aerial assaults on the rim.
Thanks to dunking, Griffin did the impossible; he made the Los Angeles Clippers relevant again.
True, they didn’t start winning games until Chris Paul took charge of the offence, but it was Griffin who made watching Clippers game socially acceptable again.
No longer did Clippers fans have to hide their allegiance, no longer were they the butt of every NBA joke not aimed at the Bobcats. Suddenly, the Clippers were one of the most exciting teams in the league.
But dunking isn’t all there is to Griffin’s game.
Sure, in his career 34.8% of his made field goals have come from above the rim, but that still leaves roughly two thirds of his offence unaccounted for.
Most of his offence still comes around the rim, last season he hit 76.6% of his attempts at the basket.
Last season Griffin’s scoring took a small dip, down to 18 points a night, but he did so at the 13th most efficient rate in the league, hitting 53.8% of his attempts.
His rebounding also fell slightly to 8.3 per game, but was still top 20 in the L.
There aren’t many players in NBA history, let alone the league today, who possess the god given size and athleticism that Griffin has been blessed with. His upside is off the charts. If he can develop a consistent midrange jumper, Griffin could make the jump from an exciting high-flyer on a playoff team to a legitimate superstar on a championship contender.
Along with his struggles from midrange (making only 35.8% from 10-16 feet and 34% from 16-23 feet), Griffin’s ineptitude from the free throw line has been well documented. Although he hit at career high 66% from the charity last season, it was clear at times throughout the year he was still uncomfortable at the line.
Last season Griffin attempted the ninth most free throws in the league, but was only able to connect on the 20th most.
If he can improve his stroke from the stripe it will not only help boost his already impressive stats, but it would be invaluable to the Clippers offence. Last year, LA couldn’t afford to play both DeAndre Jordan and Griffin in the fourth quarter of important games because of their poor free throw shooting.
Since he burst onto the scene as a high-flying rookie, Griffin has been good for roughly 20 and 10 a night, earning a Rookie of the Year award and three All-Star selections in the process, but critics have still been left wanting more.
Most of the Clippers success gets credited to Chris Paul, and his 13.9 win shares was good enough for third best in the league in 2012-13, but Griffin recorded 10.6 win shares of his own (10th in the NBA). The Clippers pairing were the second most successful teammates behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Entering his fourth season in the league, and with a yet again improved ensemble of teammates surrounding him, it will be interesting to see if Griffin can take the next step towards becoming a genuine game changer.
If the Clippers are going to make any noise come playoff time, he is going to have to.
We know Blake Griffin can dunk. Now it is time for him to show us something else.