- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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Clippers guard Chris Paul finished seventh. The Clippers are the fourth team in the past 10 years to have two players finish in the top seven of MVP voting. The previous three teams (2004 Los Angeles Lakers, 2011 Miami Heat and 2013 San Antonio Spurs) advanced to, but lost, in the NBA Finals.
Griffin’s third-place finish was his highest ever in the MVP voting after a career season in which he averaged 24.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. He became the first player in the NBA since Shaquille O'Neal in 2002-03 to average at least 24 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting over 50 percent from the field.
“I’m honored, really,” Griffin said. “It’s hard to believe, but I’m honored and humbled by that. I said all year it was kind of a two-man race and towards the end it was a no-brainer. It’s definitely cool to be up there."
While Griffin is happy to be ranked as one of the top three players in the league by voters, he said his goal is to continue to improve his game and one day win the MVP.
“Third place, you don’t really get a trophy for that, maybe a bronze medal,” Griffin said. “It’s nice to be considered as that, but I have a lot of areas for improvement.”
Griffin became an MVP candidate when he shined and helped the Clippers improve their place in the standings while Chris Paul missed 18 games with a separated right shoulder. Paul said at the time that Griffin catapulted himself into the MVP conversation with the way he played.
“Not surprising, especially after the year that he had,” Paul said. “It was unbelievable. We know how valuable he is to our team. It’s great for him to be recognized like that, but I know Blake and he’d much rather have a championship.”
Griffin was so dominant at times that there was actually a point late in the season when Clippers coach Doc Rivers thought Griffin could possibly pass James for second in the MVP voting.
“I thought he would be third, but I thought he had a chance there to be second for a while,” Rivers said. “He had a sensational season and it’s good that he’s being noticed for it.”
2dMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon