Off to a 2-2 start, the Los Angeles Clippers are looking to build upon last season’s groundwork of becoming a relevant and competitive team.
Since picking Lamar Odom in 1999, it had been a long time since the Clippers drafted a highly touted talent from the college ranks that gave them a light at the end of the tunnel.
Fast forward ten years to 2009 when Blake Griffin entered the fold. The first overall pick out of Oklahoma, Griffin excited staff and teammates in practices as well as preseason play. Unfortunately, in a preseason game in 2009, Griffin injured his kneecap after completing one of his famous dunks and was forced miss the entire 2009-10 season.
Since then, Griffin has established himself as a powerful forward in the league and a big threat down the lane. All while showcasing his fantastic slam dunk skills that earn him a spot on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays nearly every week.
Griffin has all but earned himself the token of being the face of the Los Angeles Clippers, and he has helped attract top talents such as Chris Paul and Grant Hill to sign with the team.
The Clippers finished the shortened 2011-12 season 40-26, which earned them the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and their first playoff berth since 2006. Obviously, the team will be looking to build on this success but will have to do so with caution.
Griffin is currently suffering from a ruptured bursa sac in his right elbow, which has coach Vinny Del Negro concerned.
Griffin will indeed start tonight’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, which speaks volumes for 23-year-old forward. However, it doesn’t mean it’s the right decision.
So early in the season, Griffin and the Clippers need to be cautious with how his injuries play out. In a division with the Lakers, the team needs all the star power they have to stay competitive.
With all the talent they currently have, the Clippers are not a sure shot for early playoff security, and even if they do clinch, the playoffs are that much harder.
They need Griffin throughout these stretches of the season when it really matters. Playing him while he’s hurt, even if the injury seems harmless, is playing with fire.
Right now, players like Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe can pick up Griffin’s slack while he sits out a few games to get better. Paul, Jordan and Bledsoe are capable of laying the foundation for the season by staying at least one game over .500 during Griffin’s absence to prevent them from digging themselves in a hole.
It isn’t a sure fire thing that Griffin will get injured to a greater extent which will force him out for extended time, but it’s a possibility that the Clippers cannot afford. It will be interesting to see if his elbow injury hinders him in Wednesday’s game vs. the Kings, which is another concern the team and fans should think about.