Blake Griffin made the right decision to leave Oklahoma for the NBA a few months ago. There were those that thought he should have left a year ago, but there was no way he was going to be the top pick in a draft that included Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, and O.J. Mayo.
Griffin doesn’t have to worry about that this time around. He is the closest thing to a sure thing in this draft. Every other player that will be chosen tonight has questions that have to be answered.
* Ricky Rubio – Will he live up to the hype or will he be yet another European import that falls short of expectations?
* Hasheem Thabeet – Will he ever be an offensive force or a liability?
* Tyreke Evans – Did he come out too early?
* James Harden – Why is a player whose game is said to be the most well rounded (outside of Griffin) not slated to go higher than some of the mocks have him?
* Stephen Curry – Is he a point or a shooting guard?
* Brandon Jennings – Is a year of European ball enough to get him ready for the NBA?
* Jonny Flynn – Is he big enough?
I think you get the point. There are questions about every player other than Griffin. That’s why the plethora of mock drafts that are out there look as different as they do. No one knows what’s really going to happen tonight, except for the fact that the Clippers will take Griffin shortly after the picking begins tonight.
And speaking of Griffin, the only negative thing if you’re in his shoes today – and a big one at that – is the realization that he’s going to play for the Clippers.
The Clippers aren’t just a bad franchise. They are a laughably bad franchise. This is nothing NBA fans haven’t known for the last twenty-five years.
The Clips are the NBA’s version of the Washington Nationals. They are the NHL’s New York Islanders. They are the NFL’s Detroit Lions. They are that bad. Coaches have come and gone. The one guy that owner Donald Sterling kept around – former GM Elgin Baylor – is suing Sterling over his dismissal. ESPN The Magazine just did a profile of Sterling that was less than flattering.
The Clipper have had the top pick in the draft before. Danny Manning was ok, but never the superstar he was at the college level. Most of that isn’t Manning’s fault – he wasn’t the most durable player we ever saw. Michael Olowakandi was one of the biggest busts in the history of the league. I’m not saying Griffin is going to bust out or have injury issues. I am saying is the L.A.’s history with the number one pick isn’t really all that good.
So you couldn’t necessarily hold it against Griffin if he (at least on the inside) isn’t thrilled with the prospect of playing for a team with such a colorful history.
But, I’m not here to pile on the Clippers. A million people already have done that. I’m here to give Griffin five good reasons that playing for the Clips won’t be that bad.
1. There’s only one way for the Clippers to go – up. L.A. was 19-63 last season. It would be very hard for the Clips (even for them) not to improve on that record. Especially with injured center Chris Kaman – who is more important to the team’s success than anyone realized – returning from injury.
2. The Clippers actually have some talent. Baron Davis – when his mind and body are right – is a game changer. Davis wants to prove that last season was a fluke. Eric Gordon and Al Thornton can score. Kaman is returning. It’s not like the cupboard is totally bare in Clipperland.
3. He’ll be in Los Angeles. He might not play for the Lakers, but L.A. isn’t a bad place to be. It could have been a lot worse. Memphis could have landed the top pick. Oklahoma City could have won the lottery as well. He could be playing for Sacramento. Even if the Clippers don’t improve on what they did last year, L.A. isn’t a bad place to be considering the alternatives.
4. Griffin will be well compensated. Those millions he will make for being the top pick overall will help him get over losing more in his rookie season than he did in all of his time at Oklahoma.
5. He doesn’t have to play for the Clips his entire career. There is something called free agency. If things don’t improve for the Clippers, Griffin will be able to go somewhere else – probably to a team that has a better chance of winning than the Clippers do.
So you see, playing for the Clippers isn’t all bad. Right??