Dec 1, 2010, 1:52 PM EDT
A couple weeks ago, Denver’s J.R. Smith popped up on twitter and asked if Blake Griffin was playing that night because he wanted to watch.
He’s not alone — players around NBA locker rooms are talking about Griffin with an awe of his athleticism usually reserved for guys named LeBron. And count LeBron James in the group in awe — this is what he tweeted recently.
“Man Blake Griffin is the most explosive player in the league! Crazy bounce”
And Shaq is in the club.
Blake griffin is n my top 2 power forwards in da league, he is like kemp chuck. (Referring to Shawn Kemp and Charles Barkley.)
And it goes on and on. There is a buzz around Clippers games right now — in the building, around the league. Griffin is walking highlight reel. This for the team with the worst record in the league (3-15). As bad as they are, the Clippers are hot.
Because of Griffin, because of his frenetic and athletic play. Already he is out front early in the Rookie of the Year campaign. After missing a season due to knee surgery, he has come back as strong as ever and is turning heads everywhere.
Well, not Timofey Mozgov’s head, that Griffin just went over the top of.
Griffin seems unaffected by it all, he seems uncomfortable talking about himself as a star or attraction. He just wants to play because he loves to play.
“I’m having a blast,” he said after a recent game. “Just happy to be playing.”
The spectacular dunks are drawing the raves, but what makes Griffin truly impressive is his game is well rounded. He is an elite rebounder (grabbing nearly 20 percent of the available rebounds when he is on the floor). He is hitting 47.8 percent of his shots from 10-15 feet out. He is very effective setting high picks and is shooting 64 percent when he gets the ball back in that situation (he and Eric Gordon have a nice pick-and-roll chemistry). He’s good if you just lob the ball into him in the post.
Blake Griffin is no one-trick pony. Tune in to see the dunks, come away realizing the guy can just play the game.
After sitting in a suit on the sidelines for a season, he said he feels it is different inside Staples Center this season, that there is a buzz about the team. There is a real sense of hope and optimism.
One that will die if the Clippers keep losing at this rate — and Griffin gets that.
“We’ve got to reward the fans,” Griffin said. “People aren’t going to keep coming if we keep losing. But it will come, it’s just a matter of time, just a matter of really coming together.”
Until they come together, at least tune in for the dunks.