Rookie Blake Griffin finally gets out of suits and onto the courts this season
There's some uncertainty about what to expect from Blake Griffin in this upcoming season. In message boards across the country, fantasy ballers are wondering in which round do I take Blake? I answer this question using historical rookie year production from some of the best power forwards past and present.
How Many Minutes Will Blake Play?
Many of the elite power forwards were similarly productive on a per-minute basis during their rookie seasons. However, some rookies got more playing time than others. For instance, Charles Barkley averaged 14 pts, 8.6 rebs, 1.2 stls, and 1 blk in only 28.6 minutes per game. Elton Brand, on the other hand, was a 20/10 guy as a rookie, but played nearly 8 minutes per game more than Barkley. Thus, reasonable assumptions regarding Blake's playing time will be important for forecasting his production.
It's possible that the Clippers limit Blake's opportunity early on given his knee surgery just last season. On the flip side, the Clippers virtually have no depth at power forward, which increases the likelihood of him playing starter's minutes. Vinny Del Negro has also said that he plans on coaching and treating Blake as if he was a 2nd year rather than 1st year player. These two negating factors make me believe that Blake will receive the average starter's minutes, which on the Clippers was 34 minutes per game last season.
Historical Rookie Production
The table below shows the per-34 minute production from the rookie seasons of elite power forwards such as Bosh, KG, Karl Malone, and Tim Duncan among others. It's interesting that so many of these bigs displayed their double-double potential as early as their 1st year. It also doesn't seem too surprising that Bosh and KG had the worst rookie seasons given that they came into the league at 19 years old. Experience does seem to matter.
Averaging across players, we see a clear picture of what we can expect statistically from Blake this season in approximately 34 minutes per game. Admittedly, this approach is very simplistic, but 15.2 pts, 8.8 rebs, 0.9 stls, 1.4 blks per game with solid FG% and weak FT% seems reasonable as an educated guestimate.
In Matt Buser's Big Board, Blake Griffin is currently ranked behind the likes of Greg Oden, Tyrus Thomas, Elton Brand, and Carl Landry, which is just absurd based on my estimates. He should be right on par, if not better than them. And in keeper leagues, taking these other guys over Blake Griffin would be spell tragedy for your fantasy franchise.