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Who's the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year?

10/12/2010

On Clipperblog, Alex Siskin makes a case that it's Blake Griffin's trophy to lose, despite the focus on John Wall. The preseason, he says, point out that Griffin is both healthy and a man possessed (watch the guy near the free throw line), which matters:

A point guard playing in the East is going to rack up assists and make plays and fill up the stat sheet and gain notoriety, but John Wall is also going to face some fearsome competition. He already had a good, sobering look at Derrick Rose. He plays in the same division as the Heat and the Magic. And all of the aforementioned PGs will be eager to take their shot at him. He’ll put up gaudy numbers in some losing efforts, and his talent will shine very brightly at times, but his team isn’t good or deep enough to be a contender, and there are enough elite players at his position that he will have his hands full on a regular basis.

By contrast, who is the last big man that might be considered a polished, mature product in the mode of Griffin, and what kind of players will he match up against night after night? Brook Lopez is a good name, but centers start a little more slowly, his team was in disarray, and his competition, Rose, had his hands on the ball from day one and made his mark very quickly. Before that you might go back to Elton Brand, who had the energy and strength of Griffin, without the polish and ballhandling skills. Griffin isn’t Tim Duncan, but Kaman’s presence reminds us that Duncan’s introduction to the league and immediate impact was greatly aided by playing alongside David Robinson. Griffin is bringing back power and size to the evolving forward position, where undersized athletes like Paul Millsap and Carl Landry are succeeding, while Lamar Odom rebounds and handles the ball all over the floor, and shooters like Nowitzki stretch defenses. If you go down the list, there aren’t a lot of guys who you’d think are eager to guard Griffin or be guarded by him, especially when their frontcourt mate has to contend with Kaman. And they will all know, soon enough, that Griffin has studied their game and their tendencies very carefully.

But hey, it’s the Clippers. The safest bet in sports has always been to turn away and just wait for something to go wrong. So we’re still getting an awful lot of “if healthy…” when Griffin is considered. He’s healthy. And he’s already shown, in a very short amount of time, that he’s worth paying very close attention to this season.