Reversal of Fortune: Three NBA Teams That Can Turn It Around with Blake Griffin
Just like real estate, a critical factor in the careers of many NBA prospects is location, location, location. High picks are going to be drafted by bad teams with poor records, but every situation brings its own challenges and advantages.
Some teams had a poor season because they were decimated by injury, while others are simply rebuilding. Then you have dysfunctional franchises like the Los Angeles Clippers, the General Motors of the NBA, where careers go to die.
A talent like Blake Griffin, the consensus No. 1 pick, will likely put up numbers and perform well for any team lucky enough to draft him—unless he ends up with the Los Angeles Clippers.
However, keeping in mind the realistic chance of these teams winning the lottery, here are three teams that would be excellent situations for Blake Griffin to fall into.
Sacramento Kings (worst record in league)
Kings fans have had little to get excited about over the past few seasons, and the days of a deafening Arco Arena playing host to one of the more exciting teams of the last two decades seems like a distant memory.
The Kings are irrelevant in the NBA presently, and the team lacks any semblance of buzz or excitement. Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson doesn't even waste his time denigrating the city and its fans these days.
But adding a talent like Blake Griffin could change that, and make the Kings respectable once again.
While the Kings have struggled to the worst record in the NBA, they do have some pieces to build around. Sacramento boasts one of the deadliest two-guards in the league in Kevin Martin, and have developing big men in Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson that give them some hope for the future.
The addition of Griffin, a potential 20-point scoring power forward, would help space the floor for Martin to stroke the three more comfortably, and allow Hawes to work the high post as well.
Hawes is versatile enough to meld his skills as a passer and a back-to-the-basket scorer with Griffin, and perhaps could be the Vlade Divac or Brad Miller to Griffin's Webber as they develop. Thompson could then provide depth and spark off of the bench.
It would take some time for this team to become a playoff contender (having Beno Udrih as a starting point guard won't cut it), but with Griffin, Thompson, and Hawes inside, the Kings would have a nice group of interior players to pair with their sweet shooting guard.
Washington Wizards (second-worst record)
Washington does not fit the typical profile of a low-level lottery team. The Wizards have been to the playoffs in each of the last four seasons prior to their abysmal 2008-09 season, and are stocked with all-star caliber talent.
Injuries to superstar guard/blogger Gilbert Arenas and solid rotation guys like DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood doomed this team from the get-go, but there is no reason to believe the Wizards cannot return to form next year, so long as the injury bug doesn't bite yet again.
The combo of Arenas, Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler has given the Wizards one of the highest scoring trios in all of pro basketball, but a lack of a true inside presence, along with their propensity to draw and piss off LeBron James and the Cavs in the playoffs, has prevented them from making a deep run.
Adding Griffin at power forward would be the kind of addition that could catapult the Wizards into that second tier of dangerous teams behind Boston and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference (Not sold on Orlando. Sorry).
His rebounding and athleticism would fit in seamlessly with Arenas and company, as Griffin is not the type of player that needs the ball constantly. He is excellent at scoring in transition and on put-backs, and would help the Wizards immensely with his rebounding ability.
Griffin really adds an extra missing dimension to the Wizards.
Oklahoma City Thunder (sixth-worst record)
Another team with a host of talented perimeter players is the Oklahoma City Thunder.
While it hasn't translated into a great deal of wins this season, the group of Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and rookie Russell Westbrook are poised to make a big jump next season as they continue to mature and acclimate themselves to the pro game.
But pairing a beast like Griffin with the most talented young trio in the NBA today could give birth to a future title contender. Not to mention, Griffin would be quite a draw after playing half an hour away in Norman for the Sooners.
At just 21, Durant is already among the most explosive scorers in the league. Westbrook has proven capable of doing it all, while still learning and developing at the league's most difficult position at point. And Green has shown he is a solid second or third option as well, putting up just under 17 points per game this season.
But Nenad Krstic, Nick Collison, and Chris Wilcox are not going to get it done as post starters in the rugged Western Conference. Those are bench guys. Having them as depth behind Griffin would be a nice start however.
Adding Griffin's scoring and rebounding abilities to the perimeter firepower that the Thunder possess would make Oklahoma City an explosive offensive basketball team. Defense would be another story, but the Thunder could be a future juggernaut with the addition of the likely No. 1 pick.
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