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Chris Paul traded to Clippers: The salvation of Blake Griffin

Dec 14, 2011, 11:30 PM EDT

chris-paul-blake-griffin Getty Images

Blake Griffin is going to have it different.

That’s what the Wednesday night trade of Chris Paul to Griffin’s Clippers represents. There’s been a precedent set in this league, where great players have their youths squandered on poor teams, suffering without help. The most notable has been Kevin Garnett, and after him, LeBron James, whose departure from Cleveland can be clearly linked to Garnett’s departure from Minnesota. Griffin has avoided that fate. There’s risk with Chris Paul with his knee, risk with Chris Paul because of his opt-out for 2012-2013 (which he’s agreed to opt-in for right now, reportedly), and risk with his free agency in two years in 2013. But the fact remains that Blake Griffin will play with one of the top five best players in the NBA, the best player at his position. (Derrick Rose isn’t a point guard. He’s a Derrick Rose.)

The impact of this cannot be overstated. How often are the primes of players wasted? Should Griffin (missed his rookie season with knee injury) and Paul (missed most of season two years ago and has an issue with his meniscus in one knee) stay healthy, this is a team-up that can stay together for ten years. That’s ten years where Griffin can grow into the best version of himself beside a player that can make him the best he possibly can be. That’s exceptionally rare. For comparison, here are the point guards various stars played with in their second seasons:

Carmelo Anthony: Andre Miller -Good pro, but not a star.

LeBron James: Jeff McInnis – Yeah.

Kevin Garnett: Shane Heal – Uh-huh.

Amar’e Stoudemire: Howard Eisley (OK, so he wound up with Steve Nash. And look what happened.)

And yes, it’s actually his third year in the league after his injury but the point remains the same. Most players toil in vain. And maybe it’s a market scenario. But this is the Clippers. Someone who plays for the Clippers has had something go right (super-double-jinx with a cherry on top). And the big winner is fans. They get to see Griffin with a real chance to make he most of his career from the start.

As a point of reference, the Clippers last year were 23rd in the league in points-per-possession in the pick-and-roll. The Hornets were 16th. And this is with David West out for several months and not being a roll-man, Emeka Okafor who isn’t a great roll-man, and Jason Smith, who isn’t anything.

Defense is where the impact will get lost. But Griffin’s not going to have to cover as much on the perimeter pick and roll defense, he can stick his man. Paul gets hung up on screens because of his size, but he also fights through them and can contain. Paul’s a ballhawk, which will increase Griffin’s break-out transition opportunities.

That’s the key here, and what will get lost with the trade of Eric Gordon. Gordon was never going to make Griffin everything he can be. Paul can. Gordon was never going to actually help Griffin score outside of being a diversion. Paul will create opportunities for him. Griffin gets to play with a top player, in his prime, and if they win at all, Paul will re-sign and he’ll have a title shot every year. That’s so rare in a league that’s defined by the fruitless pursuit of greatness by young players having to pay their dues on mediocre squads wasted by short-sighted or short-changed GMs. Paul saw it, with a team that was constructed well but couldn’t be held together falling apart after a run in 2008. But Griffin won’t know of it. He’ll just know what it’s like to play with the best pure point guard in the league.

Griffin has been special since the moment he stepped on the floor. He changed the landscape last year. But this? This unearths his true potential. Griffin may become great before any of us are really ready.

  1. wegohardinthepaint - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:15 AM

    Blake griffin just jazzed himself

  2. skinzfan21 - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:25 AM

    Why when a superstar gets traded to a team which was previously medicore, a million negative scenarios or possibilities are brought up?……….but just a little less than a week ago, the whole world was in love with the thought of CP3 teaming up with Kobe? All I heard was how the Kobe/CP3 combo was gonna turn water into wine, but now that he’s been traded to the Clippers, there is doubt to whether his knee will be able to hold up!! The media is so disgustingly bias………..

    • slopmcflop - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:54 PM

      I don’t think anyone forgot about the health of CP3’s knee when talking about the Lakers. You’ll have to give me a link to an article where they said playing with Kobe was going to turn CP3’s knee into titanium alloy. The fact is, no matter where CP3 ended up, his knee was always going to be a slight concern whether or not it will hold up for the long run. Any journalist should know and have reported this. Saying otherwise would have been a grievous oversight on their part.

      And a lot of people have been jumping on the Clippers bandwagon. That team has been slowly doing it right over the past couple of years. Now with this CP3 trade, you have to consider them playoff bound, or at the very least, threatening to take a spot.

  3. dieseltrain - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    It’s the clippers, where bad everything goes bad eventually.

  4. dannymac17 - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:08 AM

    Clippers have locked Sterling in a janitors closet some where or hes died and they are doing a weekend at bernies. My mind is still trying to wrap itself around the fact the LAKERS were the ones playing flirtsy dirtsy with no ambition to sign someone to flourish the same team occupying the same arena with another.

    The LAKERS were supposed to make this deal go through.

    Wrap your brains around this. Clippers Western Conf Finals in the immediate future.

    The Lakers fail to make the playoffs.

    4 Years ago, You woulda had me committed to an asylum some where.

    Now….Well, i might have a point.

  5. freudnumb - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    Just hope they won’t turn out to be Yao Ming + T-Mac. I doubt any combo will have worse luck.
    By the way, Yao had Steve Franchise during his first two years. Unlike Yao, SF3 was a legit all-star at that time.

  6. isujames - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:35 AM

    Exciting young team with a couple missing pieces

  7. anhdazman - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    CP3, one of the best PG in the game. He makes everyone around him better. He truly knows the definition of getting the ball to his team mates.
    Blake Griffin will be huge this year with CP3.
    D. Jordan will take a major leap this year. Another year with Blake and now he’ll have the ball placed exactly where he needs for easy dunks and lay ups.
    C Billups is going to be that veteran leadership that stabilizes the Clippers especially when the play-offs comes around.
    Watch for E. Bledsoe to emerge while he learns behind two future HOF in CP3 and Billups. Adding another Championship would help solidify his HOF career.
    If Caron Butler is healthy he’s also going to have a solid year.
    Bench has some depth with Mo Williams and Randy Foye.

  8. turnmymicup - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    Good to see some ppl have some basketball knowledge up in here. The media is way to bias. How can people act like the Clippers dont have a good squad now? Yeah they have some holes to fill but ALOT of other teams do too. LAC gave up alot to get CP3 but it will pay off.

  9. goforthanddie - Dec 15, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    The Clips are in great shape as long as someone else takes over the team in the next 2 years.

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