Players want to be the best. The bottom line is every basketball player plays the sport to be recognized as the best at what they do. Every NBA season the league rewards the most valuable player in basketball. Traditionally, the MVP award goes to the best player on the best team. There is one team that has been known as the laughing stock of the NBA in their franchise’s history. What happens when that franchise acquires the right talent and turns the team from a joke to contender? Do they get the respect earned after a few good seasons? One would think so, but after a couple of playoff blunders they did not do themselves any justice in gaining praises from the critics.
The Los Angeles Clippers are that team. The Clippers were one of the worst organizations in the NBA, but have strung together multiple impressive seasons. The Los Angeles Clippers are currently seeking recognition from every analyst, fan, and team as a serious championship contender.
They have the right personnel and head coach, Doc Rivers, to make a run for the NBA title this season. Many view Chris Paul as the leader of the team, but perhaps the most valuable player to the Los Angeles Clippers, and maybe the NBA, is Blake Griffin.
Blake Griffin has become the MVP candidate that no one is talking about. Ever since he came into the league, Griffin has wowed everyone that has witnessed him play. Also, his game has improved every season. The stats may show that his rebounding is down since his rookie campaign, but his ability to impact a game has grown. Blake Griffin is now capable of leading a team through his playmaking instead of just being a human highlight reel. In his rookie season, Blake Griffin averaged 3.2 assists per game and in 2014-15 he increased that average to 5.3. Another aspect of his game to look at is his turnovers. While he is creating more opportunities for his teammates, Griffin’s turnovers per game have not increased.
Another part of Blake Griffin’s game that has improved is his free throw shooting. His commitment to raise his percentage from the free throw line is something to recognize because now he is still in the game when it gets to crunch time. In his rookie season, Blake Griffin shot 52% from the line and in the 2014-15 season he shot 72.8%. Griffin is also able to stay healthy throughout the grueling 82-game season. He has only missed 33 games in his five seasons as a pro. Out of a possible 410 games, Blake Griffin has played in 377, which is tremendous for a player with a motor as high as his.
Blake Griffin’s combination of athleticism and playmaking has turned him into one of the best players in the NBA today. So why is no one talking about him? One reason could be his point guard, Chris Paul, is known as the leader for the Los Angeles Clippers. Another reason could be that people are still viewing Griffin as nothing but a dunker, when that is definitely not the case now. In 2014, the Clippers played 19 games without Chris Paul and it was time for Griffin to become the primary player for the team. He proved to be up to the task as the Clippers went 13-6 last season without Chris Paul. He also broke out in a huge way in last year’s playoffs. Blake Griffin averaged 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game on 51% shooting. Griffin showed analysts he can be the number one offensive player for the most efficient offense in the league.
MVP awards are not given based on past seasons and how a player has improved in his career, but Blake Griffin’s development into a playmaker deserved to be mentioned. Let’s look at what he is doing this season so far that will earn Griffin some MVP votes.
In the short sample size of the 2015-16 NBA season, Blake Griffin is averaging 28.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game in 34 minutes of action. He is also shooting an efficient 59% from the field and improved on his free throw shooting once again, shooting 76% from the free throw line. It isn’t like Griffin is just dunking the ball and getting easy lay ups. His average distance for a field goal attempt this season is 11.6 feet from the basket. Griffin has a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 31.8, the NBA average is 15. His PER is the highest on the team, with Chris Paul coming in second with 21.4.
The Clippers are slowly becoming Blake Griffin’s team and that is the best way to go for Los Angeles. He is now carrying the majority of the workload for the Clippers and logging the most minutes. Blake Griffin may be in his prime or just now entering it, but we are witnessing one of the best all-around players in the entire NBA. The Clippers have positioned themselves to make a run for home court advantage in the early rounds of the playoffs and are off to a strong start. Blake Griffin is the main reason the Los Angeles Clippers are starting to look like a title contender. It is time to mention his name amongst the best of the best in the NBA because he is a MVP candidate.
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