Top 50: Blake Griffin, no. 17

by October 10, 2013

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.

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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.