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Thursday, October 10th, 2013 at 12:00 pm  |  64 responses

Top 50: Blake Griffin, no. 17

The ’13-14 season will feature a new-and-improved BG.

by Farmer Jones / @thefarmerjones

A brief history of my hating on Blake Griffin:

He is pretty dynamic and awesome in college. I don’t hate him.

He is drafted and records a brief video for a charity my mom is involved with. I don’t hate him.

After missing his rookie season with a knee injury, he comes back and plays and even as a rookie he is dunking all over everyone. I don’t hate him.

He keeps dunking on guys, and a lot of those dunks are really great, but a lot of them also seem to involve blatant offensive fouls that he gets away with because they really are such good dunks and nobody wants to tell him to stop, not least because they boost ratings and please crowds, which you know the League isn’t trying to discourage that. I kind of start to hate him for that.

The fact that about half these dunks come when Chris Paul has thrown him the ball doesn’t help. It feels like the Oregon offense in football: It’s legal and exciting, but also annoying in ways you can’t entirely explain, but probably because some substantial percentage of your success goes beyond talent and execution and starts to feel like a gimmick. There’s nothing stopping you from running a play every four seconds on the football field, but it seems somehow not very sporting; in the same way, there’s nothing stopping you from trying to throw a lob dunk on every possession, but it seems like you shouldn’t. That’s not a good analogy, it’s actually pretty awful, but still, hatin’.

He wins the Dunk Contest by dunking over a Kia. A Kia.

And then somebody at some advertising agency figures out that for a jock he’s actually pretty funny, and so he starts doing commercials. And if watching basketball on television is a thing you occasionally do, you will see these commercials a LOT and probably get sick of them, even the ones that aren’t bad, because they’re on all the damn time and further add to the idea that this guy is pretty proud of himself, not undeservedly so, but maybe a little too much for a guy who is offensively still a bit one dimensional and defensively not very good at all given his talent and athleticism. I hate him.

Also he is not Kevin Love, which is not in and of itself a thing worthy of hate, but Kevin is sort of the son I never had, even though I do in fact have a son who I love very much, and he’s met Kevin and Kevin has been very nice to him, and also Kevin actually has a father of his own who I have met as well and is by all accounts a great guy, but still I get protective of certain guys, and so Kevin is my dude and some people want to put Blake ahead of Kevin in the “power forward of the future” competition that isn’t a real thing but you know how that works. And so that’s not even Blake’s fault, but I hate him for this, too.

All of which brings me to this: I don’t really hate Blake Griffin anymore.

There is no science behind this change. Simply, it is my impression that Blake is getting better. I’m still put off by how he can get away with MMA knees on dudes while he’s trying to dunk, but as a parent, I appreciate that you can’t blame a young person for getting away with something that is fun and advantageous for them, and which their superiors should be making an effort to stop. I’m also not into the fancy stats, the PERs and PDAs and PEDs and whatnot, but I feel like Blake is getting better at a lot of the fundamental things, like passing, and defensive positioning, and making free throws at a slightly higher rate than Shaq in his prime.

I might actually be wrong about all that. It’s just a hunch. Like all basketball fans, I can be irrational when it suits me.

And for what it’s worth, I’m not actually moved by the whole “Lob City is Dead” nonsense. It reminds me of when Vince Carter decided that being thought of as a dunker first and foremost wasn’t what he wanted, because being primarily an amazing dunker meant he wasn’t thought of as an amazing basketball player, and he said as much sometime around 2002 and then literally never dunked a basketball ever again. You’re still going to catch the occasional lob, Blake. Let’s not kid ourselves.

Where should Blake Griffin rank in the SLAM Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2013
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Monta Ellis Mavs SG 5
49 Luol Deng Bulls SF 10
48 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 14
47 Greg Monroe Pistons PF 12
46 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 9
45 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 13
44 Al Jefferson Bobcats C 9
43 David Lee Warriors PF 11
42 Jrue Holiday Pelicans PG 12
41 Anthony Davis Pelicans PF 10
40 Joe Johnson Nets SG 4
39 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 9
38 Kevin Garnett Nets PF 8
37 Rudy Gay Raptors SF 8
36 Paul Pierce Nets SF 7
35 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 11
34 Pau Gasol Lakers PF 7
33 Al Horford Hawks C 8
32 Andre Iguodala Warriors SF 6
31 Brook Lopez Nets C 7
30 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 6
29 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 6
28 Damian Lillard Blazers PG 10
27 Josh Smith Hawks SF 5
26 Joakim Noah Bulls C 5
25 Roy Hibbert Pacers C 4
24 John Wall Wizards PG 9
23 Chris Bosh Heat C 3
22 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 5
21 Dirk Nowitzki Mavs PF 4
20 LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 3
19 Rajon Rondo Celtics PG 8
18 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 2
17 Blake Griffin Clippers PF 2

Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’13-14—to players’ team, the League and the game.

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  • LLC#12

    Cue comments along the lines of “Does defense not matter?”

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Ryan you are freaking awesome.

  • Stepfan Raiford

    A new and improved Blake Griffin? Maybe with the help of Doc Rivers, but I just don’t see it. His stats have dropped each year since his rookie season, and is practically a no show in the playoffs and in the 4th quarter. I guess all the highlight dunks make up for that huh?

  • TR

    He really has gotten better at the little things. He plays less minutes now and just has the ball less with the addition of CP3. The teams gotten a lot better since his rookie year so it makes sense that his numbers are a bit down. The only thing hes really not doing as well now days is rebounding.

  • shockexchange

    This is a big season for the Clippers to prove either they are “hunting dogs” or mere “show dogs.”

  • Stepfan Raiford

    With his athletic ability there is no reason why he shouldn’t average a double double, and at least a block a game.

  • TR

    I agree he should be getting a double double. I’d be surprised if hes not getting 20 and 10 this year…blocks however aren’t his thing and this year its highly unlikely that it becomes his thing with Doc having Deandre Jordan anchor the paint on D. I’d be more impressed if he was able to stop getting deeboed by zach randolph.

  • Farmer Jones

    That’s never been in doubt.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk
  • spit hot fiyah

    this write up did absolutely nothing to validate his ranking.

    i like it, surprised he wasn’t higher actually considering some of the other placements.

    his ceiling is still high though, already improved his FT% but it can improve more, post game and defense also got slightly better put has room for a lot of improvement. doc could be a key factor in using him in the right way.

    and he is sneaky funny too, try humor ftw

  • MUBWAR

    16 spots left with 1 pf and 1 center remaining. This league is in love with pg n sf

  • davidR

    arenas over iverson?!

  • Junior Taylor

    I’m not even going to waste my time complaining about Slam having Blake Griffin ahead of defensive stalwarts like Duncan, Marc Gasol, and Hibbert (guys who are just as good if not better than Blake on the offensive end). We have all seen what happens to Griffin whenever he goes up against Duncan-led Spurs and Gasol-led Grizzles, he looks lost out there. I’m not even a Griffin-hater by any stretch but he continues to live off his dunks and highlight reel plays while other more deserving players continue to get overlooked.

  • LakeShow

    Hilarious write-up.

    Blake is really good. He CAN be the best PF in the L, but I do think Kevin is a better passer, better rebounder, better all-around offensive player, and slightly better defender, and a way more clutch player.

    Blake had a different year last year with his mins decreased and weird rotations from Vinnie. He should be back around 35mpg and around 20ppg-10 boards 7 FTA with a steal on 54%fg’s.

  • shockexchange

    Has it dawned on you that two of the guys you mentioned – Duncan and Hibbert – spent four years in college refining their games? Gasol didn’t enter the L until he was 22. Meanwhile, Griffin’s (who left college early) game has advanced much further than his AAU days.

  • davidR

    probably show dogs

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    in 2008? yeah.

  • davidR

    i dunno if it was back in 08, but i’m referring to the lynching slam got for putting arenas over iverson. people wouldn’t stop talking about it for months in multiple posts. it really pissed the staff that commented (russ, farmer, lang, etc) like crazy. i think those threads broke 1k comments from complaints

    that same year of the top 50 controversy, arenas was out with a knee injury

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    that was probably during my little hiatus. idk what happened, but i came in around 2006, pissed off everyone, the writers hated me yadda yadda, so i didn’t come back for a while. when i did, the writers no longer commented, and only a few of the regulars were still around.

  • Stepfan Raiford

    Z-bo does kill him every time though.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i do not at all understand where you get that Hibbert is equal to or even better than Griffin on offense? Griffin is a really really solid offensive player, Hibbert was solid on offense against small bigs for 13 games …. in the playoffs.

  • Junior Taylor

    Okay, maybe including Hibbert was a little bit of a stretch. Like I said before, I’m actually a Griffin fan (I have defended him numerous times against the “Love is better” crowd) but I’m just disappointed in the fact that he seems to have a taken 3 steps back after his otherworldly Rookie campaign. That is not a good sign for a supposed great player.

  • davidR

    to his defense, he hasn’t had any guidance or coaching to help improve his game. but he does show the tools and the willingness to learn. i think doc will get him to hone his skills this season.

    if he really wants to make the jump tho he needs to focus on d

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    idk i don’t think you are really giving enough credit to the adjustments teams have been making, and the fact that Griffin only played 32mpg last season, instead of the 36+ he played each of his first 2 seasons.
    .
    Vinny Del Negro was really the most simple minded coach we had in charge of a playoff team. His offensive system was a total and complete joke. Teams shaded Griffin into his weaknesses, which didn’t really do much because of that Chris Paul guy, it only took a possession or two out of his hands, or forced him to pass a little more often. Paul regularly just took the defenses over playing the plays they knew LAC was running and turned it into an easy dunk for Jordan (why his scoring went up), or getting Griffin the ball in a position to find a shooter (why his assists went up).
    .
    I think this spot for Griffin is more than fair, he’s one of the best offensive bigs in the league, he’s turned himself into a sort of “Chris Webber” type just without the back to the basket passing game, even though he’s still a great passing big. His defense is obviously an issue, but Doc is bringing Thibodeau’s system with him, so Griffin at worst, will LOOK average.

  • davidR

    the good ole days. things done changed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK0soPQXLSM

  • davidR

    actually, you still piss everyone off. not much changed

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Haha but now it’s not with insults and a false sense of superiority. It’s just with incessant arguing. Some change :)

  • Junior Taylor

    I do agree with you on Vinny stunting BG’s growth and that Doc would do wonders for his game but I still think that Duncan/MGasol will be better this season.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I do agree with that

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com/ Dutch Rich

    Tears meniscus in summer 2012.
    Misses golden opportunity to play with best on planet.
    Despite this;
    Starts season showing improved body language and attitude.
    Right and left handed jump hook
    Midrange jumper and improved ft’s.
    Improved footwork.
    Mostly maintains stats while surrounded by exponentially better players.
    Record breaking team success and complete inability of CP to get Blake efficient looks in the play-offs.

    All ignored except for the ft’s by both writer and commenters.

  • Farmer Jones

    That remains a personal highlight.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Blake Griffin’s FG% from 16-23 feet went down last season. It didn’t improve.

    Stats staying the same with better teammates is not a positive. Unless you think stats staying the same with less defensive attention is a good thing.

    LAC was playing Memphis in the playoffs. And Blake Griffin was being guarded by Marc Gasol. The Defensive Player of the Year.

    Let’s not just ignore facts when we type up such nonsense.

  • Dfrance

    I wonder if my computer will explode if i reply to one of those comments from 2008. lol

  • Nick Holden

    Exactly. Not convincing at all. What a weird write-up.

    How Blake can be considered better (or about to be better) then a player like Marc Gasol is beyond me. Does he have anything that he does better than Gasol, besides jumping really high?.

  • shockexchange

    Vinny stunted Blake’s growth bout as much as he stunted the growth of Darius Miles, Eddy Curry or Kwame Brown – other guys who bolted to the NBA without formal training. Blake was drafted on “potential” after 2 years at Oklahoma. The fault for his not improving his weaknesses are all his own. Maybe this is as good as he’ll ever be – a human highlight reel during the regular season and product pitchman during the post-season.

  • spit hot fiyah

    way better at talk shows and commercials, it’s not even close

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com/ Dutch Rich

    Cherry picking again huh. Mid-range I said, not long two’s.

    One ball to go around, lots of shooters and only so many possessions. You know better than that. Stats can be used to justify any endless argument. That’s why you argue so much.

    Both Vinny and especially CP share blame for under-utilizing the most potent asset on their team. CP won’t disagree. Gasol or no Gasol.

    Write about that, not the son or Love or VC or MMA knees

    Just because you liked the article doesn’t mean I have to. This is not about my opinion or yours. It’s about a disappointingly empty article from Farmer Jones, still a fan though! And I’m not even disputing the ranking.

  • AndyK415

    But Love is better.

  • Nick Holden

    Lol. I’m sure Gasol could be funny if someone gave him the chance.

  • underdog

    Although I’d pick Hibbert over Griffin 10 times out of 10, compare Blake to Duncan is not necessarily sits well. One of them has his peak years behind him, the other (hopefully) years ahead of him. As much as I love Duncan and his solid fundamental basketball, I’d pick Blake simply because he has a bright future and not a glorified past.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    That is the only distance outside the paint he shot more than once a game. Not cherry picking anything, 3.7 attempts at a lower % then last season on 3.4 vs a higher % at .8 attempts vs .7 the season before? Whose really cherry picking? Actually, whose just ignorantly arguing…..since I’m sure you didn’t know that? .
    Complain away, but don’t do it like a drunkard

  • Sérgio

    CHRIST, that post has

    1111 comments!!!

  • shutup

    Yet, almost every time they play Duncan outplays him. Despite Duncan’s glorified past he still currently the better defender of the two by far.

  • underdog

    Yes he does, regularly. That 16 seasons that Duncan has under his belt doesn’t go away. But he won’t be any younger, and at the same time, (imo) Blake still hasn’t reached his peak.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com/ Dutch Rich

    ok I’ve put down the bottle.

  • Farmer Jones

    “Disappointingly empty”? You must be new around here if you’re disappointed, Rich.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com/ Dutch Rich

    Don’t take it personal, just my rash opinion. And a lonely one I can see.
    Been on here since 2002 btw.

  • http://triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    He’s getting better…by dropping from 12 to 17??…. I’m not even going to touch on how he shouldn’t have either position, I’m not going to get into how the middle of this ranking is so messed up there’s no way you tidy up the top 15 spots. I’m not even going to get into how the best component of off season SLAM activity is NBK -vs- ….. [enter next victim].
    .
    I want better.
    .
    I don’t want dogs that won’t hunt…? I don’t want players buying cows, I don’t want anyone thinking that LeBron in the middle if his NBA career is somehow near dethroning MJ who’s body of work and the value of that work is near untouchable.
    .
    I want deep insight into whats going to happen this year from the guys that are covering the league “for a living”.
    Thank you. Regards, Dacre

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    hey i appreciate you appreciating me.

  • fruizm

    He should be 50 just because of that KIA sponsorship!

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Although I’d like for you to get into it….what can I do to entertain you better ……. Errrr worse?

  • whoo!

    So maybe Blake should have stayed in school? He was already 20 when drafted, and 21 by his first nba game — nearly the same age as Gasol. And Love left college early too. It’s not like Blake is this kid still, but his hype is just out of control. Sure he might one day live up to potential, but it’s just as likely that in a few years we ask why he hasn’t gotten better at defense the way we looked at Amare. He’s Amare 2.0 with a worse jumper but a higher motor. And Duncan’s in another echelon. By Blake’s current age of 24 dude was already 3x 1st team, 3x all-defense, and Finals MVP and perennial MVP candidate. No need to compare.

  • http://triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    No worries man. I love your “say how you see it” approach and along with that there is a great back forth here with a few regulars as shown above. Let me qualify my earlier comments by adding that your regularity here really rounds out an already entertaining site. So to what cost your contribution comes, familytime/hobbies its always welcome. I was serious about my shirt ideas too… I wonder (out loud) if slam would allow me reference them…
    “NBK upvoted me… winning”
    *shock exchange special release: “NBK’s dog hunts rabbits”
    “You spelt (….) wrong”

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Lol I am flattered, and really it’s not as much time as it seems, the Disqus system and invention of the smart phone has made commenting pretty damn easy. But I highly doubt there would be much demand for your T-Shirts tho bud. If any demand at all. As humbling an idea as that is, I gotta be honest and say I don’t think it would benefit you much to spend that money.

  • dannyb

    Very good write up. I feel the same way, in that I simultaneously love and hate BG. And mostly for the same things. I can argue that he’s better than all of the PFs who are ranked lower than him on this list, and yet, I feel like if I was building a team for one season, I would take pretty much all of them ahead of him. It’s weird.

  • Interdico Scriptor

    Wow. Before I read anyone’s commentary on this article I will comment; to make my review unclouded, and hopefully accurate. Foremost, it’s a bold attempt at blog journalism, with stylised self referentials and chaotic structure. It harps back to SLAM’s previous attempts. at. journalism. which. were. sometimes. okay. but. other-times. really. annoying. to. read.
    But this one pulled it off & I did reveal an inner chuckle, i got the references; it was pretty cool. Well done.
    And also I dare say I’m the most out-spoken of the Clipper fans on this forum and I have been one only since BG joined the Clipps (actually it was his 2nd year). It’s probably easier for me not to see the cheesy side of Blake & Chris because I have never seen them on TV nor heard of them being in an ad.
    Clipps for the chipp.

  • ballislife

    He is overrated and so are the clippers. They clippers are the best in the division but will lose in the first or second round again, and then the hype will start again that they will win. They have won two playoff games in the last two years and somehow are projected to win the tittle. More than laughable.

  • Ron

    As a clip fan that Klove 3 buzzer beater at staples is still etched in my mind

  • Ron

    Shut up clown

  • shockexchange

    And after a vicious attack against his person, the Shock Exchange stands corrected. The Clippers didn’t get bounced in the first round of the playoffs last season. Thanks for clearing that up Ron Ron.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    defending griffin over love is solid but duncan and gasol are better than griffin.

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