Thursday, May 7, 2009

NBA Draft Prospects: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma

For a complete listing of NBA Draft prospects and their player breakdown, click here.

Stats: 22.7 ppg, 14.4 rpg (3.9 off), 1.2 bpg, 1.1 spg, 65% FG, 59% FT

Listed Size: 6'10", 251 lb, 3/16/89 (20 years old)

(photo credit: Terry Dehere for the win)

About Him: When you are talking about Blake Griffin, the first thing you have to mention is the athleticism. Between his strength, his coordination, his quickness/agility, and his overwhelming vertical, the kid is a specimen; on par with the likes of LeBron James and Dwight Howard. This athleticism is what makes him such an enticing prospect (and most likely the #1 pick) because of how adept he is at finishing around the rim, either off of an offensive set or in transition. Chew on these stats from Draft Express: Griffin finishes an astounding 75.5% of his shots around the rim (which, along with his 7.9 attempts per game, led the country). He was fourth for all power forwards with 1.08 points per possession, but was fouled 18.5% of the time (and only made 59% from the charity stripe). He also scored on 51 of his 61 attempts in transition.

But that athleticism also can cause his some problems in the form of bad habits, especially on the defensive end. He had a tendency last season to play behind in the post, trying to use his quicks to make a steal on an entry pass or his hops to block a shot, as opposed to three-quartering his man and getting him out of post position (to be fair, a large part of that was probably that he played an absurd number of minutes, and he was trying to avoid cheap fouls and conserve energy).

The scary part about Griffin is that he looks to be far from a finished product at this point. His repertoire on the block is not terribly advanced and he definitely has room for improvement on his perimeter skills - i.e. a face-up jumper, his handle, etc. (although he has shown some flashes - we're talking about a 6'10" that has drawn comparisons to Amare Stoudamire that took defensive rebounds and led the break himself). Griffin may have the best work ethic of any player in the draft (do you remember the what his workouts were like over the summer?). I don't think there is a single NBA GM that would be worried about this kid being picked and losing his motivation to improve.

The biggest positive about Griffin is that he is not a diva. And he's more than just a hard-worker. He comes from a good, supportive family and does not seem to be interested in superstardom. He's a very focused guy, that is not only willing to sacrifice his body, but also is disciplined enough to take a cheap shot (or two) in stride.

Comparisons: Best Case - Amare Stoudamire, Antonio McDyess in his prime, some are even saying Karl Malone; Worst Case - Emeka Okafor, David Lee

Bottom Line: Griffin is going to be the #1 pick in the draft, and if he can stay healthy and continue to develop, he has a chance to be one of the best power forwards in the league.


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