Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Griffin will help, but the Clippers have a ways to go.
Never have I seen so much hype over the random selection of ping pong balls. Yes, I'm talking about the NBA Lottery and ESPN's tireless coverage of it (seems to be getting longer and more in-depth every year). Don't get me wrong, I like the lottery system and as a matter of fact, it provided me with one of my happiest sports moments in 2008. The Bulls defied all odds and scored the #1 overall pick to nab Derrick Rose. Rose ended up paying immediate dividends for the Bulls as they made an impressive playoff push against the defending champs and he ended up being named NBA Rookie of the Year. So clearly I can't complain about the lottery too much.
This year's presumed #1 overall pick, Blake Griffin, looks like he will land in L.A. after the Clippers won the jackpot tonight. Griffin is freakishly athletic and occasionally enjoys hitting his head on the backboard while dunking. I've boldly predicted that after a few NBA seasons under his belt, people will start to compare his athleticism to someone like LeBron James. The young man can score in many ways, he can rebound, he can handle the ball, and he can swat shots out of the arena. I'd sure love to have him on my team.
The Clippers need him though...very very badly, but I wouldn't jump to any drastic conclusions yet about where the Clippers will finish in Blake Griffin's first season. L.A. finished 19-63 last season and sadly I followed many of those games because I like to keep up with what former IU guard Eric Gordon is doing. I can honestly say that a lot of their losses were blowouts. I mean this team was far from competitive for the most part. And while I think Griffin will help tremendously, I think he is just the first step in getting the Clippers to where they need to be.
If Camby and Kaman can stay healthy this year, then the inside offensive game and post defense will be much improved. If Baron Davis can climb his way back up to superstar status, then the team's leadership will be upgraded. If Zach Randolph can remember not to get hammered drunk and drive home after games, then they will have one less player suspended. If Eric Gordon can avoid a sophomore slump (which all indications point to no, but you can never be sure), then they will have a reliable bigtime scorer. However, take notice of all of the "ifs" that kick off the previous statements. Those are important when talking about the Clippers because things have never really gone their way as a franchise. They have won ONE playoff series since moving to L.A. in 1984. They have ZERO division titles.
Now I'm not saying that the tide isn't at least semi-turning with the presumed acquisition of the sensational Blake Griffin, but this organization has a history of underachievement. I hope that Griffin brings the franchise to prominence, not just because I like him and Eric Gordon, but because it is about damn time for them to get out of the rut that they've been in for about two decades.
Until then, people should not assume that the Clippers are going to be anything special just because of the lottery tonight. Griffin needs to adapt to NBA life on and off the court and he needs to work on some basketball fundamentals, namely his mid-long range jumper. So Clippers fans...I think you're on the right track, but it is going to take more than Mr. Griffin.
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