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Sunday, October 21st, 2012 at 12:45 pm  |  50 responses

Top 50: Blake Griffin, no. 12

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players for ’12-13.

by Maurice Bobb / @ReeseReport

A dunk is only worth two points.

For all of its bluster. For all of its authority. For all of its kinetic energy. For all of its rim rockin’, reckless abandon, it’s still only worth two points.

We’ve all heard this. We’ve heard it to the point that it’s a saying. We’ve heard it from European ballers. We’ve heard it from coaches, from opposing fans, from analysts, from posterized players. It’s only two points.

But there’s an even older saying. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. It’s inflection. It’s body language. It’s the look. It’s tone. It’s subtext. Context.

Almost every player on an NBA roster can dunk. They have hops, they can elevate and even dunk in another player’s face. With authority. Lots of players can dunk, but they’re not saying the same thing as Blake Griffin we they do.

See when other players get open for a breakaway or a lob, you get excited, sure, but when Griffin does, there’s a catch in your throat, your heart skips a beat. Time literally stops. Because you know. You know what’s coming.

That’s the difference.

Blake Griffin is an artist and the rim is his canvas.

And no matter where we fall in the spectrum of basketball fan–diehard, unrepentant homer, stat troller, annoying front-runner, we are all mesmerized by Griffin’s aerial artistry. Even if you’re a stats geek. Even if you’re all about player efficiency and investigating a player’s PER, whatever the _____ that is (read: I know what it is, but I still don’t want to understand it). There’s something about what Griffin does in the air before he tattoos a rim that takes us all back to when we first wanted to dunk. When we demolished subpar mini goals that our parents bought us as kids or when we were too old to play on elementary school hoop courts but ventured there anyway because everyone could get “in the game” dunks on those eight foot goals.

Griffin brings all of that back to the surface.

And even if you never played or picked up a Spalding, Whoa! that Griffin is amazing to watch!

But here’s the rub: none of it matters if you don’t WIN.

And yeah, Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers have already had that moment. You know, that moment of crossing the threshold. It was almost imperceptible but there was a moment, even before Chris Paul came to town. There was a moment that we all stopped laughing at the Clips.

And it wasn’t because of anything the owner Donald Sterling did. His basketball and racist missteps are the stuff of comedy legend. Still.

No.

It’s because of Griffin.

Now, if pressed, most people would haggle over when that moment happened, but they’d all agree it was somewhere around the time of the dunk.

You know, the dunk that turned Timofey Mozgov into a verb? From that moment forward, no one, and I mean no one, wanted to be “Mozgov’d.”

That was when we all took stock and stopped laughing. We started paying attention. That’s when we put Griffin on the map. And that’s why we put Griffin on this list.

But the reason why Griffin hasn’t budged much on this list, ranked in at No. 12, is the dunks to wins ratio. If Griffin was the pretty girl we were all going “ga-ga” over at school, we’re all finally at the point of looking past the beauty and we want to see more of what makes her special, like personality, intelligence, likeability.

That’s where we are with Blake.

“Where’s the substance to his game?”

Can he hit the mid-range J? Can we count of his footwork on the low post? When the games on the line and there’s no clear path to the rim for some PDA, can he deliver the game-winner?

For last year’s shortened season, Griffin averaged 20.7 ppg and 10.9 rpg while shooting 54 percent from the field. All Star numbers without question. And there’s no doubt that he’ll do those numbers or better this year. But here’s what it all comes down to and there’s just no getting around it: Griffin has to show us he’s more than the best dunker in the L. Griffin has to develop a consistent shot a la Karl Malone. He has to become a better defender. He has to make other players better.

And that’s where all of the “Kevin Love is a better power forward than Blake Griffin” arguers find purchase. Love does all the fundamentally sound things on the court that we can all appreciate. If Griffin can add those elements to his game, he can quiet of his detractors and they’ll be no stopping him. On the ground, in the air or otherwise.

Where should Blake Griffin rank in the SLAMonline Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Greg Monroe Pistons C 8
49 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 14
48 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 13
47 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 12
46 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 11
45 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 14
44 Anthony Davis Hornets PF 13
43 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 12
42 Al Horford Hawks C 7
41 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 10
40 Danny Granger Pacers SF 6
39 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 11
38 John Wall Wizards PG 9
37 Monta Ellis Bucks SG 8
36 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 10
35 Roy Hibbert Pacers C 6
34 Tyson Chandler Knicks C 5
33 Eric Gordon Hornets SG 7
32 Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 9
31 Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 6
30 Amar’e Stoudemire Knicks PF 8
29 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 4
28 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 3
27 Paul Pierce Celtics SF 5
26 Andre Iguodala Nuggets SG 5
25 Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 4
24 Josh Smith Hawks PF 7
23 Derrick Rose Bulls PG 8
22 Joe Johnson Nets SG 4
21 Steve Nash Lakers PG 7
20 James Harden Thunder SG 3
19 Pau Gasol Lakers PF 6
18 Chris Bosh Heat PF 5
17 Kyrie Irving Cavs PG 6
16 LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 4
15 Tony Parker Spurs PG 5
14 Dirk Nowitzki Mavs PF 3
13 Andrew Bynum Sixers C 2
12 Blake Griffin Clippers PF 2

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • Perry the PlatyPteranodon

    It’s not that Blake Griffin has to become a better defender, it’s more like he has to start being a defender.

  • Karl

    Sub-par defense. Average offense. I really don’t think he is the second best PF in the league right now. He doesn’t command a double on the low post like LMA nor can he hit the J like him. Defense between the two isn’t even worth mentioning. Should have been ranked from 20-25.

  • RedDragon10

    I could not agree more with you.

  • RedDragon10

    Overrated. Way too high on this list. Calling him the second best PF in the league is absurd.

  • Drig

    He can take anyone off the dribble and create his shot and is a very good passer….But on the low block, he still needs to improve even with his little spin moves. And defense….. Still not feeling this pick….

  • Ismael

    What the hell?!?!?!?! C’mon SLAM. This guy is Overrated.

  • jeff nwagbo

    Hes the best passing 2nd best rebounding 3rd best scoring pf in the league. None of the elite pfs are really good defenders anyway..dirk, aldridge and love are all average defensively. Griffin and love are the only ones that can give you 20 and 10. A bucket off a dunk and a bucket off post moves are both 2 points and griffins usually come with a foul. Plus hes the most efficient scorer of them all…love shoots 45 aldrige shoots under 50 blake shoots 54 quit hatin

  • ctk

    i have never seen 22,11,n 3 get hated on so much n my life…he gets on avg. bout 2 dunks a game…the other 18 comin from somewhere n it aint fts…he a great rebounder ..one of the top 5 passin bigs n the league ….its only 2knocks i have on his game …he cant play center n he should be a better shot blocker

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kari-Tai/1510813001 Kari Tai

    How many players does this site reveal per day?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kari-Tai/1510813001 Kari Tai

    Crossing my fingers Rondo is in the top 10…

  • http://twitter.com/jklchay Jon Chay

    I’m taking Bosh/Aldridge/Nowitzki over this guy ANY DAY.

  • spit hot fiyah

    100% agreed

  • Caboose

    No.

  • spit hot fiyah

    at least he has the most haters among slam readers it seems like. he could easily avg 24 and 12 this year while shooting 55% from the field and be on a top 4 team in the west. which would put him into the conversation of all nba 2nd team. aldridge and love wont be able to say that at seasons end.

  • Datkid

    blake griffin is an excellent player. but he should not be this high.

  • Datkid

    factual.

  • Datkid

    honestly, kevin love shouldn’t even be as high as he’s going either though. neither griffin, love or LMA is really better than bosh… and dirk diggler needs knee surgery

  • Juicy

    CO-SIGN couldnt have said it better myself.

  • Juicy

    Great spot for him. Single-handedly took the Clips from the basement to a borderline playoff team, then to a legit Western Conference player when CP3 came to town. Phenomenal shooting percentage, great rebounder, great passer. More importantly, has won a playoff series and his team improves year in and year out. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love, for all of their “greatness”, don’t win s**t. People wanna knit pick, but at the end of the day Blake puts up HOF-caliber numbers nightly and wins games, all without a consistent offensive game and lax defense. Haters kill yourself

  • 23

    Totally correct

  • justin05

    The guy just wants big dunks. He is working on shooting but come on. Clips will never see a Finals appearance if he doesn’t work on D.

  • The Babe

    This is the worst Player rank so far. Usually I can get behind SLAM but this guy has no post game, no defensive prescence, can’t hit jumpshots, awful ft%… He can rebound and dunk and that’s about it

  • justin05

    Roughly 65% know what’s right. It would have been a travesty if Griffin got in the top 10. Preach his stats all you want but the guy doesn’t have many good years left. He couldn’t even play for his team in the 4th Q of the playoffs.

  • danpowers

    hyped up. he aint there yet. great talent tho and a joy to watch. id just have him 4 or 5 ranks lower. la and bosh are at least better. maybe even still dirk if he wasnt banged up.

  • danpowers

    two. when they enter the top 10 its just one. today was aprils fools day on slam tho

  • danpowers

    aint no hating. people need to man up and dont wine about “hating” whenever there is criticism. i bet most here criticising the ranking enjoy watching griffin. id consider myself as a fan of griffin and even love but they dont deserve a rank that high. speaking about loves stats: whats the use of that unless these dont translate into wins? without rubio he cant win anything and doesnt change or impact games a big way as the no1 guy on his team yet. he still has to prove that. highly doubt it would be any different with griffin. i got much of love for griffin and love but i can also be objective. their ranking is really a tad bit too high.

  • danpowers

    you cant talk him that bad neither. at least he is a nice rebounder which is also valuable. still too high in this ranking

  • Perry the PlatyPteranodon

    Yeaaah but ya’ know dunks are attractive, and defence is like that good looking (but not overly attractive)girl who’s gonna be a successful, intelligent person, and dunks are the one nighter that everyone wants, but isn’t really all that great. And rebounds, rebounds are the average girl that actually likes you, but no one really pays attention to, despite being the key to get to either defence girl or one nighter.

  • Datkid

    Blake is a future Hall of gamer, no question. but right NOW? he should not be this high.

  • Dutch Rich

    Hey! Where’s NBK? I think he got a shout-out midway through the article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    Thankyou!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    Yes Yes Yes

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    “Average”… really. You want average… here’s average. LBJ finals V Mav’s… that’s average. Blake has never done anything average in his whole life.

  • blk

    this just bull.come on we all know what happens to dunkers look at vince,jeff rich, the list can go on. so slam y’ll like the dunks and think that make blake better than DN,LMA,AB and KG just cos he’s making y’ll sell better that dont make him the best PF in the league.

  • Bt

    I’m sorry I didn’t realize a 32-50 record qualified you as a borderline playoff team. Because that’s the record he ‘led’ the clippers to pre-CP3

  • nick

    hahaha i was thinking the same thing haha where you at big cat?????

  • nick

    he definately had eric gordon with him…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    Yeah… well… how much was that haircut?

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    You do that and Blake will just keep on winning!

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    I HAD A VISION. THE YEAR IS 2020 AND BLAKE GRIFFIN IS AN NBA CHAMPION AND THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD. MVP, SCORING TITLES, ALL NBA FIRST TEAM, DPOY (OKAY SO HE NEEDS A BIT OF WORK HERE).
    Now I have pit it out there it’s bound to happen… something to do with the internet and probability.

  • stokesey

    slightly too high for mine… not as over rated as many are saying. Id probably have him around 15-18. many of you seem to be missing the fine print… these rankings are “based solely on PROJECTED 12/13 performance” not what they have done thus far… saying he has sub-par defense and offense… another summer under his belt, his game will be that much better, which is what SLAM has PROJECTED… me too :)

  • north

    you know when you’re drafting for a fantasy team and someone takes a guy too high and everyone else yells “REACH”… Blake Griffin at #12. For a guy who can’t shoot a free throw, can’t defend a man, can’t get steals or blocks on a nightly basis and has a lot of turnovers for despite working with an elite PG #12, is too high. LMA, Bosh, Smith, Gasol all affect games in more positive ways than Griffin.

  • Max

    Great comment

  • shutup

    His production justifies this ranking, don’t care if you don’t like his ginger hair or stare downs after a dunk, the numbers he puts up couple that with the fact that he has the ability to turn any play into a highlight and this is an excellent ranking for him. All this talk about sub-par defense; what does that actually mean? He grabs his share of rebounds, defends the post and wing and blocks shots at a decent clip, do these people realize that good offense trumps good defense in the league? The only person I saw abuse him last year was Duncan in the playoffs, and Griffin still put up decent numbers (avg 21 pts pg)

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    didn’t all of us, in one way or another, get a shout-out midway through the article?

  • nhm

    scary double double every night. plus a icing on the cake dunk every other game or so. plus he’s winning now. if he can just consistently make those short hooks and off the glass jumpers he sometimes pulls out, he’ll be top 5. this guy is a worker on the boards.

  • Slick Ric

    Bunch of haters…. Blake is deserving of this spot and I believe he’ll actually outperform it.

  • Interdico Scriptor

    Dude. You’re a funny motherf**ker.

  • Interdico Scriptor

    coughs

  • xja

    funny he might be #3 overall now. everyone was wrong to the max.

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