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2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 52.8 percent shooting, 23.9 PER
Had you told me the Los Angeles Clippers would finish with the Western Conference's third-best record this season despite Paul missing 20 games, I would have called you insane. I would have struggled to piece together complete, coherent sentences.
"James Harden!" I may have exclaimed. "Rockets! Something, something about the Golden State Warriors!"
Like many others, I would have been wrong—very, very wrong.
Blake Griffin carried the Clippers more than anyone this season. The notion that he remains overrated is cute—provided that you think all stupid, senseless concepts are adorable.
The time Griffin spent leading the Clippers without Paul was baptism by fire. It had to happen. The Clippers needed it. Griffin needed it. We needed to see it, to understand that he was something more than Paul's partner in crime.
On the back of an expanded offensive arsenal, Griffin became the first NBA player since Shaquille O'Neal in 2002-03 to average at least 24 points, nine rebounds and three assists on 50-percent-or-better shooting. That's some company for a guy often considered more athletic than talented. Griffin also finished tied for sixth in win shares (12.2).
Winning an MVP award will be tough as long as he's playing next to a perennial MVP candidate, but it's not impossible. There was an on-court power shift in Los Angeles this season. The Clippers run their offense through Griffin. He is no longer a budding, overrated superstar prospect; he is a full-fledged superstar.
Griffin is Paul's equal.
"He led with his voice," Jamal Crawford told USA Today's Sam Amick of Griffin. "He led by example. He led us every single night when Chris went out.
Largely because of the job he did in Paul's absence, Griffin has been cited as an outside MVP candidate, someone who deserves a place on the ballot behind James and Durant.
One day, though, Griffin will be James and Durant.
One day soon, he'll be more than an honorable MVP mention.