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Saturday, October 15th, 2011 at 2:54 pm  |  86 responses

Top 50: Blake Griffin, no. 14

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Franklyn Calle / @FrankieC7

It wasn’t too long ago that folks were offering the Greg Oden comparison when referring to new NBAer Blake Griffin. Many pondered over the possibility of him being injury prone for the remainder of his career and whether his career was over before it had even begun. A quick Google search gives you tons of old articles contrasting the former Oklahoma standout to the current Portland Trail Blazer center. But even the thought of Griffin in that way should be illegal today.

Following surgery on his broken left kneecap, the top pick in the 2009 NBA Draft found himself sidelined for the entire ‘09-10 regular season. What had started as a stressed fracture on his left knee after coming down on it following a dunk in his last pre-season game, turned sour when the true gravity of it became clear a few weeks later.

Fast forward to the fall of 2010, and Griffin was ready to make his rookie debut—once again. But this time it would all be worth the wait. What transpired over the next few months became known as “The Blake Show.” Griffin brought a level of excitement back that not too many top draft picks have been able to live up to.

Night after night, it was the Oklahoma City native who was featured with the top play of the night, just like his ridiculous acrobatic dunks became posters for SLAMadamonth on a regular basis. This video might refresh your memory on all 214 regular-season dunks and the amount of posterizing that took place on Griffin’s watch. Who could ever forget when he practically dunked on the entire Knicks team? No matter what he does throughout the rest of his career, poor Timofey Mozgov will always be remembered as the guy Griffin once tea-bagged. I’m not even sure if I’m even allowed to say that here.

For the first time in a very long time, or maybe even ever, the Los Angeles Clippers not only became watchable, but also one of the NBA’s main attractions. The Clippers’ home attendance didn’t just skyrocket at Staples Center, which was Laker-Town from the get-go, but the franchise also was among the top teams in the League in drawing crowds on the road. Averaging 17,614 fans per night in away games, the Clippers finished seventh in road attendance. Just the previous season, the same L.A. team finished second to last—29th in the League—in the aforementioned category. Undeniably, the Blake-effect.

It shouldn’t be to anyone’s surprise that this 6-10 forward, despite having never been ranked in SLAMonline’s Top 50, stands today among the top-14 players in the League. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone his size with the amount of athleticism and poise he has. There just aren’t many, if any, power forwards who could imitate his game.

And what I find the scariest right now when thinking about Griffin’s potential is his upside. At the moment, most of the 2011’s Rookie of the Year offense seems to come from his athleticism and post-up game. His done an excellent job using his strength to get defenders off him and finishing at the basket with rim-rattling authority.

Reality is that at some point in his pro career, some point very soon, he’ll probably expand his game outside of the paint. He easily averaged a double-double last season, 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds, without any true offensive threat from mid-range or beyond. It’s only a matter of time before his jumper becomes one that demands respect. I honestly believe he could be peaking at 27 ppg and 15 rbg by that point. Once his shot begins to sink in consistently, Griffin could go from being one the most entertaining players to watch, to one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the L—although technically he already is one.

Now let’s be real, no one expected to see this much from this kid, at least not this early. I mean, not even in college was Griffin this freakishly explosive. It’s as if the injury sort of rejuvenated his springs. It’s hard for anybody to even hate on him. How many guys in the League are willing to sacrifice their body on just about every single play? The way he attacks the basket sometimes seems as if he’s only bound to get hurt again. But then again, there just aren’t many players who can withstand and produce in the kind of way Griffin has proven to.

The 22-year-old became the first player to win all six Rookie of the Month awards since Chris Paul in the ’05-06 season and the first rookie to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds since former Clipper Elton Brand in 2000.

It’ll be interesting to see how he follows up his spectacular rookie campaign. Can he outdo it next season? Will he be able to posterize just as many, if not more? Why not? One thing that is for certain: Only a year into it, Griffin has already become the most exciting finisher in the League.

SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2011
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Luol Deng Bulls SF 8
49 Andrew Bogut Bucks C 7
48 Ray Allen Celtics SG 9
47 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
46 David West Hornets PF 15
45 Kevin Martin Rockets SG 8
44 Andrew Bynum Lakers C 5
43 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 11
42 Lamar Odom Lakers PF 14
41 Gerald Wallace Blazers SF 7
40 Brook Lopez Nets C 4
39 Joakim Noah Bulls C 3
38 Carlos Boozer Bulls PF 13
37 Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 12
36 Eric Gordon Clippers SG 7
35 Tony Parker Spurs PG 10
34 Andre Iguodala 76ers SG 6
33 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 11
32 Al Horford Hawks C 2
31 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 9
30 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 10
29 Josh Smith Hawks PF 9
28 Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 5
27 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 8
26 Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 6
25 John Wall Wizards PG 7
24 Danny Granger Pacers SF 5
23 Monta Ellis Warriors SG 4
22 Joe Johnson Hawks SG 3
21 Paul Pierce Celtics SF 4
20 Steve Nash Suns PG 6
19 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 8
18 LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 7
17 Chris Bosh Heat PF 6
16 Kevin Love TWolves PF 5
15 Rajon Rondo Celtics PG 5
14 Blake Griffin Clippers PF 4

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’11-12 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Maurice Bobb, Shannon Booher, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Jon Jaques, Eldon Khorshidi, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Quinn Peterson, Dave Schnur, Abe Schwadron, Dan Shapiro, Irv Soonachan, Todd Spehr, Tzvi Twersky, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Ben York.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • Shem

    Russell Westbrook will not have a better year then Blake Griffin. PERIOD.

  • otero

    Griffen is a Beast but he isnt better than zach randolph

  • EmCee

    co-sign shem

  • Red

    Top 15? He’s a top 20-30, lol wow.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Damn, wish this wasn’t a Saturday cause on a weekday we could’ve had some crazy convos about this one on here.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Great spot for a cat that had the best first season since TD. He’s also better than ZBo/CB/KLove.

  • rob stewart

    No one in the league would take Westbrook over Glake Griffin. Not even the Timberwolves.

  • http://shinefluid@aol.com yada

    id take blake over everybody he is ahead of

  • http://slamonline.com Andrew woods

    22-12!!!! He should easily be top 10 if we are projecting the damage he will cause this year. Even a modest bump to 24-13 puts him in the top 8 imo…who ahead of him will have stats that are comparable to that?

  • Matt Park

    Definitely feeling the spot and the write-up. Nothing but praise and I really think he can average 25 at least two seasons in his career… His jumpshot already has nice form and Blake has shown confidence in his shot, going straight up for the available shot (when he is wide-open of course)with no hesitation. His rebounding game is great, boxes out nicely with that powerful frame, jumps quickly and snags the ball, protects it after the rebound. The scary thing is that the write-up did not mention his decent ball-handling skills. He can be a one-man fast break. Explode from half-court, use his great natural balance to make a spin into the lane, and outright finish. That said, he uses his ball-handling a little too much from what I’ve seen, but he’s a great player no doubt. Hoping to see him move even higher up.

    And he is better than everybody he is already ahead of.

  • GB

    1)Dirk (for now)
    2)Gasol (for now)
    3)Bosh
    4)Amare
    5)Randolph
    6)The rest? Don’t matter…

  • Ken

    I think a little high, but even if he only replicates his rookie number next season, he’s still top 20. Surprised no mention of his surprising passing ability.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Amar’e is top 3 PF in the NBA, despite only playing half the spot. Yay.

  • roc

    No mid range or outside threat? Eric Gordon would like to have a word with you

  • add

    very, very questionable, more like 25-30

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Sport*. – other then that I have no issue with this spot as a projection, considering how much his team will improve (barring injury) and the fact that he creates offense for others. Unlike Amar’e. Right now though, I’d prolly take Alrdidge over both of them. But only until Blake turns into a ninja turtle, which would happen this year (year 3, like Derrick Rose)

  • http://dodgers.com Joey E.

    go SLAM!

  • R-City

    Solid write-up. I agree with this spot. I could see him a top 10 in couple of years if he keeps it up at this pace.

  • Samco

    I thought this was the ranking of THE BEST PLAYERS, not THE MOST POPULAR. I like Blake, but come on. Lamar Odom has more game, (admit it) and he was in the 40′s.

  • ChipS

    Can’t be upset with this spot….. ESPN has him top 10 already.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    He just beat Lamar Odoms career high in everything, in his first try Samco. Lamar is a better ball handler, shooter and defender. That’s it. Blake is a far better scorer, rebound(er), and overall playmaker. He also forces teams to double him, and you never have to question his effort. Basically Odom is a really good role player, and Griffin is a good go-to guy, on his way to being great.

  • stayweird38

    I’d take Blake griffin over Russell westbrook any day… my homie is a hard thunder fan and he HATES WESTBROOK haha he calls him a ball hog

  • DukeFromDeep

    C’mon guys… talk it up. Blake is already top ten!!

  • ChipS

    Wow! Me and NBK actually agree on something…. Blake is well on his way to being top ten but he has to prove it by building off last year.

  • jdote

    As great a rookie season Blake had, I think it’s kind of crazy to put him as a top 15 player. I’m not one to say young players have to earn their stripes or anything, I just think as well as he played, his team didn’t didn’t win too much. I’d honestly rather have Lamarcus Aldridge on my team than Blake. Call him soft or whatever you want, but dudes game is just so polished. I like Blake a lot, just think this ranking was a bit premature.

  • Hanoon

    WOW, NO RAPTORS ON THE TOP 50!!!!

    sad times to be a raptors fan, lol

  • MUBWAR

    lool at hanoon, i feel u bro. Nothing is wrong with blake’s positioning. he’ll probably average about 24 13 1 and a block next season(good for top 7)

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    I know that was only one season but….I think Blake Griffin might end up becoming an Top 10-15 All-Time Power Forward,I think he has THAT kinda potential, if this is literally only the beginning, imagine how many more years he’ll be doing this MEANWHILE improving his game in the process, when he peaks, he’ll definitely have Duncan or Malone-esqe numbers. So(considering how long he leets himself play past his prime)he’d probably finish his career a multiple All-Star,All-NBA Team Member, Maybe ven an MVP Award(H’ll at last be in the voting), not sure he’ll have any championships but I think he’s got Hall of Fame Potntial.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Damn these typos are killing me. *a Top 10-15 All-Time, *lets, *even, *He’ll, *Potential. (The E Key on this Keyboard sucks)

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    I buy this. Westbrook over Griffin is a stretch, though.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    I really like kid, but he needs to get the hell away from the Clippers if he wants a real shot at winning a chip.
    The Clips have nice pieces, no doubt, but Vinny Del Negro as your coach and Donald KKK Sterling as your team owner are not a recipe for success.

  • ctkennedy

    If yall will take Blake over Westbrook than u got to take him over Rose too…if Westbrook was n Rose position he would avg.25 too n Rose pts would go down alittle to Westbrook level at 21-22 a game …neither one of them is great with the vision they get dimes off the fact u cant stay n front of either one

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Ew don’t start with that nonsense. If Rose played next to the best scorer in the league his numbers would not be comparable to Westbrook. Saying Westbrook would have BETTER numbers on the BULLS? Haha wtf kind ridiculous idea is that. He only shoots 1 less shot as it is. And he’s gonna get better as the guy defenses solely focus on? Lol please

  • Dagger

    ctkennedy: you’re off on the numbers: Rose’s stats are almost identical to Westbrook’s. But basketball is about so much more than stats. Rose’s decision-making is generally excellent, where Westbrook struggles, and Rose is the definition of a good leader. That’s a big part of what separates them right now. As for Griffin: if this list is about expected production in the coming season (whenever that is), there’s no way he’s #14. More like the 8-9 range.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Russell Westbrook’s numbers would probably be only a level or two above mediocre if he played for the Bulls of today. Derrick Rose would probably average less points, but more assists with the Thunder.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    I was hoping no one would start up Rose vs. Rondo yesterday, but didn’t expect someone to bring up Rose vs. Westbrook on Blake Griffin’s post.
    That sh*t is getting old.
    Rose > Westbrook.
    The end.
    Only it won’t be, of course…

  • ctkennedy

    Westbrook decision makin aint that bad he plays with 3 below average offense players …Rose leadership aint no better …they both work hard on they game n dont say much to the media …Noah n Deng is their leader ….i dont know why Rose is so love n people act like Westbrook aint sh*t

  • ctkennedy

    @nbk not better number than Rose but better than what he gets with OKC…Both teams would have the same problem either way…OKC would still need a low post threat..n Bulls will have one creator…givin the ball to Durant aint sayin much he not a playmaker like that ..his iso game needs work(with that said he workin on it judgin by how comfortable he lookin with the ball n his hands durin the summer this yr…lets see if it translate to the season

  • ctkennedy

    to be on the subject so to speak ..lls …Blake wouldnt make my top 20 cuz his team aint make the playoffs n i dont think they gon make it next yr either ..As a franchise player he has to make the top 8 in his conference PERIOD ..same thing i was sayin with Tyreke Evans …Lls…u got to lead your troops

  • ctkennedy

    to be on the subject so to speak ..lol …Blake wouldnt make my top 20 cuz his team aint make the playoffs n i dont think they gon make it next yr either ..As a franchise player he has to make the top 8 in his conference PERIOD ..same thing i was sayin with Tyreke Evans …Lol…u got to lead your troops

  • Ronald

    I think the Griffin will be a bit better than Amare. Especially next year.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Your right But Durante creates huge amounts of space by just standing On the court. Rose has Korver (some of the time) and to create space. With half of the wing minutes going to Brewer and Bogans. Westbrook has Seglosha as the only player that doesn’t spread the court, for like 20 minutes a night. Westbrook’s numbers would be much worse in Chicago. Atleast efficiency wise, and his turnovers would go up but his assists would go down. Playing with Durant and being the 2nd not 1st option on offense (despite being able too shoot a 1st option amount of shots) is considerably more beneficial to Westbrook then the opposite situation (offensively) in Chicago for Rose. To think otherwise is foolish.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Your right in saying what both teams need* not what your saying in generAl

  • ctkennedy

    @nbk Boozer is a legit scorin PF…Deng top 10 midrange jumper n the league…Brewer knows when to slash n cut to the basket to help create space…Noah a elite passin Center …Rose got better spacin on the court than Westbrook CLEARLY

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Quick question: When it’s all set and done, who will end up having the better career? John Wall or Blake Griffin?(I only bring up John Wall because he’s probably the only other young player in the league today that has as much or maybe even more potential than Griffin)

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    People really underestimate Westbrook’s talent/skills. Yes, he had a terrible WCF vs Dal but so did Rose(ECF), Wade(ECF), Bron(Finals), and Kobe(WCSF). All those guys struggled at one time or another in the Playoffs. The guy is only 22 and never played PG until the NBA, so be patient with the kid because it takes some time to master the position at the highest level.

  • Shem

    Did I seriously just see a Westbrook Rose comparison? The difference between Rose and Westbrook isn’t remotely comparable. The Thunder would take that trade every day of the week. That’s the difference between winning the title and being eliminated by the Mavericks. The Thunder would also trade Westbrook for Griffin had they had the opportunity. In my opinion, Griffin is the most untouchable player in the league at the moment.

  • Jer Dawg

    I suppose this ranking isn’t bad for Blake. I didn’t agree with #15 Rondo because he isn’t a complete point guard with his inability to make jumpers and I just think he’s on very good team that makes him look better. Blake has proven lots already after 1 season and this is plenty high for now. I expect Slam in the next few years place him top 10 or 5 players soon. Gotta climb the Lebron, Wade, Kobe, Dwight, Rose Mt. Rushmore of current NBA players. Blake Griffin is good for now at this rank.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    blake should be higher,fourteen players didnt have a better season than him last year.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    @ctkkennedy, who cares if they got similar games, they not the same player. that arguments sounds like the fools that say since kobe is the closest thing to jordan, shouldnt he be the 2nd greatest of all-time? no.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    There is now way in h*ll you can compare playing with Kevin Durant to Carlos Boozer or Luol Deng. I realize how good they are. You don’t realize what the difference is between being the primary goal for a defense totry and stop, and the guy teams want making decisions. Literally, Westbrook is the lesser of two evils as opposing teams see the thunder. It’s like in football, if your good at passing (Kevin Durant) teams will try and make you run (Russell Westbrook)

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    I’m commenting from my phone, which is why there are a plethora of grammatical and straight up wrong word errors in my comments, autospell is my nemesis

  • dc sham

    I agree with nbk, Rose and Durant would be murder for the opposition on the court together. Imagine Rose taking his man off the dribble at will and when teams try to double he has Harden on one wing ready to shoot while Durant is coming off of a curl on the other, Insane.

  • T-Money

    seriously, dude is top 10 nab for me already. i’m dead serious, he’s unreal.

  • T-Money

    i’d want two big men before blake: dirk and dwight. that’s it, that’s the list.

  • ctkennedy

    People r really undervalvin Westbrook for the OKC success ..i hope that trade him just so people can see it

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Nobody is undervaluing Westbrook. Your saying he’s as good as Rose. Which is ridiculous.

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    I’m calling Gasol as the next player, falling out of the top 10.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    Imagine Blake and Dwight on 1 team..

  • http://www.slamonline.com AllBall

    Westbrook is not better than Blake. I have Blake as top 10 too. Is Westbrook really going to put up better numbers than him this year? Blake may put up better numbers than every player in the L this year.

  • http://Www.fiba.com Darksaber

    One thing in the article i disagree with: his outside shooting. Already has a very fluid jumper, and launched it quite often in the Clipper games i saw.
    He’s got work to do on P&R defense, but helpside D is already above average imo.
    Easily Mr. ‘Sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat’ during a fastbreak in the L.
    hope he gets the nod for the summer oympics. London calling, Blake.
    Plus, he’s amusing on the twitter.

  • Bt

    Most Overrated player in the league

    Clippers won 29 games in 09-10 then they apparently added a superstar. The result? a 32 win season. When your worth 3 wins to your team you aren’t a superstar, especially when your defense is as bad as his is

  • Moosa

    Dont understand how anynone would pick Griffin over Love. Griffin scores 2 ppg more, Love boards 3 more pg. So statwise they are pretty similar. Team impact is insignificant.They both get their numbers on bad teams. In Loves case that seems to be used as a knock on his game, but for Blake his numbers are often used as further proof of how good he is. “he gets great numbers despite crappy teammates”. IF anything, Love has a more versatile game with his three-point shooting. I agree they should be pretty close in placing on this list, but as of today I would pick Love over Griffin every day of the week.

  • Moosa

    And Zach Randolph on mondays, wednesdays, thursdays and sundays

  • jarrett

    so what your telling me is,, Russel Westbrook is better than Blake Griffin????

  • jarrett

    SLAM, I’m convinced you guys dont even read these comments. So theres no point for even commenting about it

  • TR

    sweet – so tyson chandler is in the top 13 somewhere, right? What a joke of a publication.

  • seriousblack

    ^Not true. Ryne, BCrawford, and many more even post responses sometimes.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Most overrated player in the game?
    Wow.
    You can’t put all the blame for the Clippers’ woes on Blake.
    Eric Gordon only played in 56 games.
    Randy Foye only played in 63 games.
    Chris Kaman only played in 32 games.
    They were plagued by too many injuries, too much youth, and a dumb as a rock head coach.

  • fleez

    hmm ray allen 48, andrew bynum 44? K.

  • Heals

    Anyone who went to a Clips game before Blake played and then went to one after they figured out he was able to put down anything within arms reach knows. Clippers games are a thing (not just a sporting event) to do now (well not right now) in LA, that wasn’t conceivable even 18 months ago…

  • seth star

    Gerald Wallce 41????? hmmmmm. great list…. not

  • http://www.Jcolemusic.com Showtime

    Westbrook is better than blake…rose is better than westbrook, is it a huge gap NO, but is he better yea.

  • DukeFromDeep

    What is wrong with you people (Americans)??? Seruously, BG is already top ten in the NBA. F**k off with Westerbrook… are you kidding? If you were starting a team today BG is a perfect fit, face it. He’s already top three PF in the game!!!

  • http://offthebackboard.wordpress.com/ Off The Backboard

    Blake is the real deal. I’ve never seen a big man dominate like he did since Tim Duncan – come to think of it, it reminded me a lot of Amare’s rookie year (the posterization of Olowakandi came to mind when I saw the Knicks dunk). The scary thing is that his numbers last year were better than any numbers Amare has put up in his career, minus a year or two where he averaged over 25 (Griff still averaged more rebounds). Blake is only a ROOKIE…in 6-7 years he is going to dominate the league, maybe sooner. As for Westbrook, yes, he is a talent, but do you realize how difficult it is to get a franchise big man nowadays? Especially one that can not only win you games, but also bring the crowds in?

  • nbaNw8

    Griffin at #14?? Negative.

  • Bug Marley

    Putting power back in power forward.

  • MVPITZKI!!!!

    If he can get Dirk range, he will be unstopable just like Dirk was this past season.

  • the truth

    I love BG, but he should be ranked ahead of monta ellis on this list, that’s it…bg better than rondo, lma and z bo…i think not

  • DieselMechanic

    #14 for now, single digits next year

  • flyingkings

    These same dudes saying that blake is ranked to high or overated makes me laugh. If u were to start a franchise they would pick Zbo,LMA,Amare, and Klove over Griffin? I highly doubt it. He already has become the posterboy of the NBA, literally! Last person to put up numbers he did rookie season was shaq. Superstar in the making. He’s brought back the Power in powerfoward. Not like these 3 point, frontal offensive face up fowards who play like small fowards. Griffin can actually mix it up and do both. Once his shot becomes more of a threat, watch out this beast.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    “If he can get Dirk range, he will be unstopable just like Dirk was this past season.”

    Wow, The rocket surgeons are out today… Good spot, if he doesn’t deserve to be a little higher. I don’t get how anyone can say this kid doesn’t deserve to be top 15. Why? Tell me why?!

  • zach

    What’s a rocket surgeon?

  • Lower East Scribe

    I don’t know where he ranks (top 25, def. 14? I don’t know), but the story was dope, nonetheless.

  • NoCo

    Did the dunk contest judges do the voting for these rankings, too? Blake is a great talent, there’s no doubt about it, but not the 14th best player in the league. If the game tempo slows down, he’s meat for the most part. He’s got good half court moves, but nothing elite, yet. Charles Barkley had him pinned in saying, “This kid is going to be really good when he learns how to play basketball.”

  • http://slamonline 3kings

    hes the best dunker in the league. if can develop a jumpshot persay like chris bosh and hes unstopable

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