Stardom a slam dunk
The high-flying acrobatics and powerful dunks dominate the highlight packages, and that's why the Clippers' Blake Griffin is already one of the more popular players in the NBA. But those traits aren't why Griffin will soon blossom into one of the NBA's biggest superstars. Rather, he'll be a star because he contributes in every way you'd expect a premier power forward to contribute.
Griffin, 21, is already a fantastic rebounder, a notch below Dwight Howard and Kevin Love. His commitment and ability to control the defensive boards are attributes most rookies don't possess.
He has a veteran's feel for the pick-and-roll game, with the ability to roll all the way to the rim or pop out for a jumper.
And he plays efficiently on offense, not taking a lot of bad shots or turning the ball over particularly much.
Griffin is going to be more than eye candy with his dunks — he'll be a star.
Seriously? He's in elite
Um, is this a serious question? An NBA-season-high 47 points. 27 straight double-doubles. More time on "SportsCenter" than an ESPN anchor. Few can guard Blake Griffin now. Wait until he better masters the NBA game.
The NBA is about talent and matchups and Griffin overwhelms in both categories. He's too strong, too quick and too athletic not to be a dominant player for a long time. Everybody talks about the dunk where he almost catapulted over poor Knicks center Timofey Mozgov on Nov. 20.
How about — in the same game — the dunk on Danilo Gallinari? Griffin stole the ball, dribbled downcourt, performed a 360-degree spin while keeping his dribble alive and then dunked. With authority. That's not hype. And it's more than a highlight. It's a basketball play — one that few can perform.
Being a Clipper hurts
It all comes down to the definition of "superstar." If Shawn Kemp was a superstar, then, yes, Griffin certainly appears to be on that career track.
Of course, playing for a winning team also would help, although the Clippers do appear to be moving in that direction.
But there is another factor at play, a significant factor:
Griffin is a Clipper, and when was the last time we used "Clipper" and "superstar" in the same sentence?
Isn't it only a matter of time until Donald T. starts wondering why the kid isn't shooting more jumpers or playing point guard or, well, you get the point?
And then there is another question: Can a player become a superstar with Vinny Del Negro as his coach?
Derrick Rose only now has made that jump in the post-Vinny era in Chicago.
Blake no fake; real deal
Los Angeles Times
Sports pet peeves — there are many — but one is overuse of the word "superstar."
If a fine was imposed for the misuse misdemeanor, my wallet would be a little lighter too.
Keeping that in mind, yes, the Clippers' Blake Griffin will be a legitimate mega-superstar, elevating him above the ranks of the pretty good.
After the Clippers beat the Lakers on Sunday, Kobe Bryant said it would be "a joke" for people not to consider Griffin an All-Star. Charles Barkley said Griffin and Kevin Love should be in the All-Star Game. Griffin is averaging 27.5 points and 13.9 rebounds in the last 10 games.
Just get him a decent nickname and a high-profile actress girlfriend and this superstar thing might be happening a lot faster than even the longest-suffering Clippers fan ever thought.