Blake Griffin: Handicapping LA Clippers Superstar's MVP Chances in 2011-12

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent IDecember 26, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers on the court against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 9, 2011 in New York City. 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. The Clippers defeated the Knicks 116-108.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Los Angeles Clippers star forward Blake Griffin is one of the top NBA MVP candidates this season and will battle Miami Heat star LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant for the award all year long.

Griffin is one of the most talented basketball players we have seen in years, and despite all the flashy alley-oop highlight reels he fills, Griffin is much more than a high-flying dunker.

He averaged 12.8 rebounds per game last season which ranked fourth in the NBA, which was pretty impressive for a rookie coming off an injury.

Griffin will take his game to a new level this season with superstar point guard Chris Paul, but will that equate to an MVP year for the Clippers star?

Let's look break down Griffin's chances at winning the award in his sophomore season.

Why Griffin Will Win the MVP

Griffin remains the focal point of the Clippers offense even with Chris Paul joining the team to be the playmaker. Paul is capable of scoring 20-plus points per game himself, but with Griffin, Caron Butler, and DeAndre Jordan, he will look to pass more than ever.

With the New Orleans Hornets, Paul had to score a ton to help the team win games because they had little offensive talent, but with Los Angeles he doesn't need to take over games with his scoring for the team to win.

The result will be a Paul looking to get Griffin involved a ton, and this will really help his MVP chances. Griffin is so difficult to defend in the low post because of his strength, unreal athleticism and impressive repertoire of low-post moves.

Griffin has to work on his mid-range jumper though, because teams will double-team him in the paint more this season than last.

With a mid-range jumper, which to be fair did get better last season, Griffin will be almost impossible to defend. If defenders have to respect his jumper, then he can use his quick first step to drive to the basket with speed and finish at the rim.

Griffin scored 22.5 points per game last season without a playmaker close to the talents of Paul, and with a star point guard and quality teammates, Griffin's scoring average will likely improve to about 26-27 because he will score even more easy baskets.

With center Chris Kaman gone from the team, Griffin could even grab more rebounds than last season.

If Griffin can average 27 points, 14 rebounds and a block per game this season, he will win the MVP award. There's no reason he cannot average those numbers with his talent.

Why Griffin Won't Win the MVP Award

Griffin could see stiff competition for the NBA MVP award this season from his own team in the form of Chris Paul.

Paul is a great all-around point guard and not only can he pass the ball magnificently, he can score 20-plus points and rack up 2-3 steals every game.

His offensive and defensive talents are spectacular, and even though his scoring average may decrease a bit with better teammates on the Clippers than he had with the Hornets, any improvement the team makes this season in the form of wins/losses will be heavily credited to Paul. This will hurt Griffin's chances of winning the MVP.

If Griffin cannot improve his mid-range jumper that much then defenses will double-team him in the paint and look to frustrate him.

He does not have the strength or power that Shaquille O'Neal did during the prime of his career that allowed him to dominate offensively in the paint despite having no mid-range game.

Griffin will also face tough competition from Miami Heat star LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, both of whom are leading NBA Finals contenders this season.

James is on a mission this season to shut up his critics and win his first championship, so you can bet he will dominate the regular season once again and be a prime contender for another MVP award.

Odds Griffin Wins the MVP - 11:1

Griffin will be a great player this season and will see his statistics improve with a much better point guard feeding him passes, plus the fact his talent is only going to get better with more experience.

He should be able to hit 25 points per game this season, and with Kaman gone, his rebounding totals should also improve.

Where the award could be won or lost for him will be his defensive play. Griffin is not known as a fantastic defender, but if he can improve that aspect of his game he will impress MVP voters.

I think James will win the MVP award this season, but Griffin certainly has the ability to win it if he continues to improve and leads the Clippers to the playoffs.

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