Blake Griffin: How Good Can the Los Angeles Clippers Rookie Be?

Alex TichenorCorrespondent INovember 27, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers dunks during the first half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on October 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The first points of his career came on a reach-behind-his-head alley-oop dunk. Then he threw down a Dwight Howard Superman-esque spike on the unfortunate Timofey Mozgov. Then he dunked again.

And again.

And again. 

He put up a 44-15-7 in his 14th NBA game (it was against the Knicks, so it was more like a 28-10-4).

Okay Blake, you have our attention. And our fascination. 

Just 16 games into his professional career, Blake Griffin has become one of the most polarizing and entertaining figures in the game. If he's on TV for some reason (he plays for the Clippers, so that isn't too often) and you're an NBA fan, you're watching. 

Of must see players in the league, Griffin is top-five on most basketball-watcher's lists (mine goes something like 1. LeBron, 2. Durant, 3. Griffin, 4. Rondo, 5. Wall).

He's ridiculous. He's reDUNKulous. 

But how good of a "franchise guy" is Griffin? 

He's already broken his kneecap (not micro-fracture or anything, but still concerning). However, it has not seemed to effect him this season. In fact, it really does look like it has made it stronger as most players suggest after injuries have healed. 

He's definitely looked like the real-deal so far. Or at least the "real highlight reel."

Griffin's most accurate comparison in the league right now is Amar'e Stoudemire—a run-and-jump power forward who excels in the fast break and dunks the crap out of the ball. He'd be Amar'e, only if Amar'e could rebound, jump about a foot higher and dive on the floor for every loose ball. 

In other words, Blake Griffin turning out as Amar'e Stoudemire would, barring injury, be almost a worse-case scenario. Amar'e is a top-20 player in the league and one of the highest scoring power forwards of the decade, so if that's his worst-case scenario, that's not bad at all (stats through Nov. 26: Griffin 19.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg. Amar'e: 22.6, 8.1).

Griffin's ceiling reaches much farther than Amar'e, though. 

Like I said, Griffin can rebound. In fact, he's already one of the league's best rebounders. It's conceivable that Griffin could average 14 or 15 points per game once he plays in the league for a little bit longer. He just never gives up on the ball and goes after those offensive boards like a lioness goes after a zebra. 

That's the scary thing, Griffin is playing this year after a one-year layoff and coming off of knee surgery and he's still nearly putting up a 20-10 as a rookie. He's the anti-Greg Oden (sorry, making Greg Oden jokes is just too easy. And I'm a Blazer fan). He's adjusted to the league remarkably well.

Imagine once he really gets the hang of it, will he score 26 or 27 points? Hard to say.

The biggest what-if for Griffin is probably his point guard. If Griffin ever is paired with an elite, pass-first point guard (Nash, Williams, Paul, Rondo, Kidd are the list right now) he could form one half of one of the most potent pick and rolls in NBA history. 

Imagine Griffin with Nash right now. I'm getting chills just thinking about it. Wow. WOW.

Griffin was born to be a top notch pick-and-roller and will always be one of the best big men on the break as long as he has his world-class athleticism. He's just scary good in the open court. He can handle the ball, jumps passing lanes, and finishes with dictatorial authority. 

Okay, this is just turning into a Griffin love-fest. Sorry.

The point is, he's good—really good. He could be great—really great.

He does need that great passing point guard to be one of the all-timers though. Scoring power forwards just don't win titles by themselves (or at all, see Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Elgin Baylor). Realistically, Griffin probably will never win a title or reach his maximum potential in a Clippers uniform (it's the Clippers, seriously). 

Always assume the worst with the Clippers, that's just the way it is. He'll probably never get that super point guard (a very rare species).

We can wish though. 

Griffin might never reach the potential that he really has in him, but if he gets 80 percent of the way there, he could still very well end up on a plaque in the Hall of Fame and will have entertained millions and millions of people. 

He's going to be great. Sit back and enjoy however great that might be.