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Thursday, November 25, 2010
Griffin's better than advertised

By J.A. Adande

Blake Griffin
John Wall came into the season as the rookie of the year favorite, but don't count out Griffin.

You think you know what Blake Griffin's about.

Perhaps you saw the video of his pre-draft workout before the 2009 NBA draft. Or you heard about his work habits during his long road back to the court from the broken kneecap that cost him his rookie season, when he started rehabilitation sessions long before the secretaries got to the Clippers' headquarters. You thought Griffin was about effort.

Then the 2010-11 season started. Griffin's first career points came on a dunk. And it seemed as if every field goal since then was via the same, spectacular fashion. You thought Griffin was about excitement.

Both good guesses, but they don't capture his essence.

If you really think about it, you'll realize the operative word for Griffin is creation.

We had our first clue in this Clippers website video of Griffin and teammate DeAndre Jordan hitting trick shots all over Griffin's backyard. He banked the ball off a wall; bounced the ball off his upstairs deck, over a fence and through the hoop; and hit a shot from the far side of the yard. He was creative enough to find every way to make a shot on his property.

You can see it in games as well. How many other players would think the best path to a fast-break dunk would be to blaze past a defender, spin into the lane, keep him on your hip, then rise up over him? Most minds don't think that way. Certainly not most minds attached to a 6-foot-10, 250-pound body.

If you combine it all you get someone creating excitement and opportunity from effort and ability. It's an awe-inspiring mix, and could lead to him winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

I picked John Wall as the favorite because the Washington Wizards' point guard would have the ball in his hands to start almost every possession. Wall has an advantage that's similar to this Lamar Odom description of Derrick Rose: "He's their first option, and he has the ball first." Griffin was dependent on an ineffective Baron Davis and an inexperienced Eric Bledsoe at point guard. It's also easier to double- team Griffin at the forward spot than it is a point guard on the perimeter.

Except Griffin creates a way to get his own shots: offensive rebounds. Snag one of those things and all of a sudden you're looking at a point-blank shot, often with one or even no defenders around. Griffin averages four offensive rebounds per game, although it seems he sometimes gets that many on a single trip down the floor. But those second chances help him rank second among rookies in field goal attempts per game; and if you round up his 14.7 shots per game and round down Wall's 15.3 they are even.

Going into Wednesday's games they were exactly even in scoring average, at 18.9 per game, the best among rookies. Griffin has the rookie rebounding lead all to himself; his 11 per night are four better than runner-up DeMarcus Cousins.

More impressive than Griffin's stats is what he is doing in the NBA universe. He has created a compelling reason to watch the Clippers. With his frenzied style, on any given play he's a threat to break the rim or break a bone. They should call him Break Griffin. He's a mixture of a young Charles Barkley and Evel Knievel. Did you ever think we'd see that combination?

Griffin has created a new basketball paradigm.