Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle stopped short of suggesting that Blake Griffin deserved the MVP award over Kevin Durant or LeBron James, but he gave him a pretty strong endorsement Thursday before his club took on the Los Angeles Clippers in Dallas.
You can't argue with that logic, and it's becoming increasingly hard to deny that Griffin belongs in the MVP conversation.
The 25-year-old high-flyer isn't just highlight-reel fodder anymore. He's making a substantive impact for the highly successful Clippers, averaging 24.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and—more importantly—3.8 assists per game. Those certainly qualify as MVP-like numbers, even if they seem overshadowed by Durant's lofty line.
Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal notes just how highly Griffin ranks across the board:
Griffin is sixth in points per game throughout the entire Association, trailing only Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love and James Harden. But he's also a top-10 player when it comes to player efficiency rating, usage percentage, offensive win shares, total win shares and win shares per 48 minutes.
But the contributions go beyond numbers alone. The defensive attention Griffin draws makes it possible for perimeter shooters like Jamal Crawford to get quality looks. And Griffin's improved decision-making is apparent, especially with that assist tally. He knows when to look for his shot and when to look for his teammates.
When asked this March if he saw himself as an MVP candidate, Griffin declined, calling it a "two-man race," per the Los Angeles Times' Broderick Turner, and noting the extent to which teammates like Crawford had made impacts this season.
That said, few impacts have been bigger than Griffin's. He's held the Clippers steady despite key injuries to Crawford, J.J. Redick and Chris Paul, who's missed 19 games this season.
Griffin hasn't missed a game.