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Blake Griffin Summer League Observations

Now Summer League has ended (and the NBA has basically stolen my $14.99), I wanted to share my observations on Blake Griffin and how his Summer League performance will foreshadow his effect in the NBA.

Scoring:

Blake can definitely score in the open court and put back/garbage point situations (the Elton Brand special) - no doubt about it. He did it in college, he did it in Summer League and I'm sure he'll do it in the NBA.

I don't think, at least in the early stage of his career, he will be much of a back to the basket guy. His lack of length hurts him a bit in this regard, IMO. He got blocked quite a few times by both non-NBA guys and by long, lanky NBA guys.

He has the makings of a face up game but he won't be able to utilize it until he becomes more confident in his shot. It was difficult to tell how accurate his shot is at the moment as he didn't take enough of them (which might speak for itself). It looked okay... but until he can make it regularly the defenses are going to pick the lesser poison and play off him - negating his quickness.

Freethrows are sort of a mess at the moment but he'll probably tighten that up and be able to convert 3-4 extra points a game because of it.

I see him as a 18-20ppg guy for the first two years mostly doing what Elton Brand did early in his career + converting transition buckets. If he can do what Brand did in the 05-06 season with his jumper we could be looking at a 25ppg guy.


Passing/Handling/Court Awareness:

The big surprise of Summer League was the basketball acumen Blake displayed. His court vision/awareness and general understanding of the game was very impressive.

This, more than anything, made me excited about the pick. As a Clipper fan I've seen more than my fair share of tantalizing physical specimens but, in the end, they all turned out to be lacking in what I've come to regard as the most important attribute in the NBA: Basketball IQ.

Blake has it. His passing was phenomenal and I think it will translate to the NBA if the coaches encourage him to facilitate and let him play through his mistakes. you don't see many rookie bigs throwing multiple alley oops to their front court mates - Summer League or no.

His dribbling I had heard about before SL and I had assumed it to be something a novelty then - there are some bigs in the league that have nice practice handles but using them in a game is an entirely different proposition. However, watching him in the games, I think he will be able to use it. Sparingly at first but maybe after a few years he will tighten it up enough to be a deadly weapon.


Defense:

Here the lack of length was evident. Blake is not going to be a shot blocker. He's not going to be a guy you can key your defense around a la a Duncan or D Howard.

I wasn't overly impressed with his man to man D either - though he obviously has the tools (his lateral quickness is ridiculous for his size). I'm going to withhold judgment here - there are plenty of guys in the league who have the tools but don't play good D.

I was impressed, however, by his team defense - even in the scramble of Summer League. He obviously knew where and when to be somewhere on the court which is very encouraging as it takes most players years to learn that.



Overall, I came away from Summer League excited. He was the 20/10 guy as was advertised but with a basketball IQ that was not. If he doesn't continue to improve much he will be an all-star like Elton Brand was an all-star. A glorified garbage guy who doesn't need to ball to score... in addition to being a very good passer and reliably defending his position.

If he improves his jumper and his faceup game, which all signs point to at this stage, then I see him as a (wait for it) Chris Webber-type - maybe a little less skilled but more physical who puts up 25/10/4 type numbers. In other words: an all-star game lock.

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