Posted on: January 18, 2011 10:14 pm
Blake Griffin missed his entire first year out with injury and many were already calling him a bust. He then began his rookie year a season late in this current 2010/2011 NBA season. He began to turn some heads with his play. Now of course ESPN was all over him the minute he started throwing down highlight dunks, but alot of knowledeable NBA fans still weren't impressed. Then Griffin started owning the boards and has got himself on a 27 game streak of straight double-doubles. It began to peak the interest, but still wasn't enough. After Blake Griffin's monster game where he dropped 47 points against the Pacers , there has been quite a bit of buzz about how good this guy actual is. With a couple impressive wins and big games against the like of the Heat and Lakers , that helps draw more attention to this guy.
Now you see people mentioning him as possibly already one of the best NBA players already, or at least for the future. Everyone is mesmerized by his high flying style, his big time numbers for a rookie (only 7th rookie to average 21 ppg and 12 rpg if he keeps up his numbers), being able to show up in big games against some of the NBA's top teams, and putting up the highest scoring game of any NBA player so far this season. However, while even this doesn't impress some die-hard NBA fans, I think I have something that would even impress them. The thing that is the most impressive about Griffin and the thing that will be the most important ability throughout his NBA career and could definie his future as an NBA superstar is his passing ability.
I know, he's a big man and you wouldn't expect alot of passing out of a big man, especially in today's game. What's even more unlikely that it's coming from such a young player when most of them seem more interested in the flash of the game and not the true fundamentals. Nonetheless, Griffin is already amoung the best passing big men in the NBA right now and could be on his way to being one of the best passing big men in NBA history. That can only mean very good things for his future in the NBA. Right now Griffin is averaging 3.4 assists per game and is currently 3rd in the league in assists for big men (1st is Pau Gasol at 3.9 apg and 2nd is Al Horford at 3.5 apg) .
To put things in perspective, let's take a look at some of the best passing big men of all time. First let's look at Pau Gasol himself:
Pau Gasol - In his rookie year he averaged 2.7 apg, his career high is 4.6 apg, and his career average is 3.2 apg. Gasol has now been a big part of the Lakers recent back to back NBA titles.
Tim Duncan - In his rookie year he averaged 2.7 apg, had a career high of 3.9 apg, and has a career average of 3.2 apg. Duncan has won 2 NBA MVPs, 4 NBA Titles, and 3 NBA Finals MVPs
Karl Malone - In his rookie year he averaged 2.9 apg, had a career high of 4.7 apg, and has a career average of 3.6 apg. Karl Malone won 2 NBA MVPs and went on to be one of the greatest scoring big men in NBA history.
Wilt Chamberlain - In his rookie season he averaged 2.3 apg, had a career high of 8.6 apg, and a career average of 4.4 apg. Of course we all know how Wilt became one of the most dominant NBA players of all time, won 2 NBA titles, 4 NBA MVPs, and a Finals MVP.
Wes unseld - In his rookie season he averaged 2.6 apg, had a career high of 5.2 apg, and a career average of 3.9 apg. Unseld was one of the strongest NBA players of all time and definitely one of it's best rebounders. He has won an NBA title, NBA MVP, and an NBA Finals MVP.
Bill Russell - In his rookie season he averaged 1.8 apg, had a career high of 5.8 apg, and had a career average of 4.3 apg. Russell is seen as one of the greatest players ever and most definitely the greatest leader of a team ever by leading the Celtics to 11 NBA championships in his 13 seasons in the NBA. He also added 5 NBA MVPs just for fun.
Kevin Garnett - In his 1st starting season he averaged 3.1 apg, had a career high of 6.0 apg, and a career average of 4.1 apg. KG proved to be one of the game's most passionate players in it's history and was an all time great defender (finally winning a DPOY a couple years ago), was an NBA MVP, and recently won an NBA title.
Chris Webber - In his rookie season he averaged 3.6 apg, had a career high of 5.4 apg, and a career average of 4.2 apg. Webber is easily seen as one of the best passing big men of all time and was one of the NBA's best players in his days. He was a David Stern Game 7 in 2002 away from getting a chance to win an NBA title.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - In his rookie season he averaged 4.1 apg, had a career high of 5.4 apg, and a career average of 3.6 apg. Kareem went on to win 6 NBA titles, 6 NBA MVPs, and 2 NBA Finals MVPs. He is seen as one of the greatest big men and NBA players in it's history and its the only one to ever star in a Bruce Lee movie (suck it DJ Mbenga!)
Bill Walton - In his rookie season he averaged 4.8 apg, had a career high of 5.0 apg, and a career average of 3.4 apg. His NBA career was shortened due to his awesome red beard weighing down his legs enough to give him injury problems for the rest of his career, but in his limited time as a star he did manage to win an NBA title, MVP, and Finals MVP.
So in short, only 3 players have ever had a rookie season with higher assists per game averages (Webber, Kareem, and Walton) . Those 3 along with everyone else on the list of the NBA's best big men all went on to have a lot of success in the NBA, most of them being amoung some of the best NBA big men of all time. The passing game from a big man has proven to be a big part of their success and key to leading their teams to victory and success. If Blake Griffin can continue his strong passing game and improve upon as many of these great big men have done in NBA history, Griffin could be on track to becoming a great NBa player one day.
Posted on: October 31, 2009 9:10 am
Yes, you heard me right and now that he's back with the Pistons he's proving it. He wasn't be used correctly on the Bulls and Cavaliers who tried too much to play him out of position (PF) and never let him roam like he could. He's old now, so I won't argue he's better than Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett but he's still in that upper group of post defenders. He can still go one-on-one with any post player and slow them/shut them down. He can still get up (though not as well as he use to) and block shots or get rebounds. He is also still quick enough and has quick enough hands and feet to press players after the throw in and still can step out on players and get some steals. If you need any proof, go watch the last two games for the Pistons and you will see plenty of proof.
He's not just putting up individual stats or slowing down just one player, but he's effecting the entire defense again and getting back to being that anchor on defense. The first game against the Grizzlies, the Pistons held them to 74 points on 36.1% FG shooting and Big Ben had 9 rebounds and a block. The game last night against the Thunder, the Pistons held them to 91 points on 43.4% FG shooting and Big Ben had 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 3 steals. Yes, they did lose last night but there was no more that Big Ben could have done to help them win (they only played him 30 min. for one, and even though they played good defense it was their offense that couldn't get it done).
I know you still have a bad taste in your mouth from what he looked like on the Cavs and Bulls, but you can't expect a player like Ben to be able to play out of position and not in his own style. The excuse sure works for Steve Nash and a few other players, so why does it get ignored for Big Ben? And for anyone who has tried to say it was the Pistons defense that made Big Ben, please explain how their defense is making him look good now? Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villaneuva, and Richard Hamilton are making him look good on defense? Please, Tayshaun Prince is the only other one who can play great defense on the team right now.
I know you will say "it's only the Grizzlies and Thunder," even though I heard a lot of people talking about the Thunder being a "surprise team" this year and their offense is really good but their defense is the weak part. However, Tuesday, November 3rd 2009 (mark it down) the Pistons will get to play Dwight Howard and the Magic. Once you see Big Ben take on Howard and still play great, I'll be waiting to hear what excuses you can come up with then.
Ben Wallace is still one of the best post defenders in the league.
Posted on: May 31, 2009 9:54 pm
History tends to repeat itself a lot; not only in sports but in all of life. However, here we're only interested in the sports history. One such thing that has been consistent in NBA history is defense winning championships. Almost every time, one of the best defensive teams will win the championship. Now of course there are a few exceptions here and there, but you have to look at the overall picture. This, however, is not about defense in NBA history, but instead great big men winning championships. The majority of NBA championships have been won by teams who are lead by a great big man (almost always one who has very good defense, if not great defense). You can go all the way back to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain to see that great big men have always been able to win championships with their great post play on both offense and defense (mainly defense though).
I only bring this up of course because of this year's NBA Finals matchup: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Orlando Magic . Now Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are both very good big men, but neither one could come close to being consider one of the best big men in the game (on both ends of the court). Of course I am talking about Dwight Howard , who most would agree is the best big man in the NBA right now. Howard has proved very worthy of that title thus far leading his Magic to the 3rd seed in the East, being a Top 5 defense in the NBA, winning the DPOY (well deserved), and getting his team past the favorites, the Cleveland Cavaliers led by LeBron James . Without a shadow of a doubt he has been the main reason for what has got the Magic into this year's NBA Finals. Of course there are always very important role players for every great team, so Rashard Lewis , Hedo Turkoglu , Rafer Alston , Courtney Lee , Mickael Pietrus , etc. have all contributed to the team's success as well.
The last 10 years in the NBA has been dominated by big men - as far as championships go. Shaquille O'Neal has four NBA titles (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006), Tim Duncan has four titles (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007), Ben Wallace has a championship ((2004), and Kevin Garnett has a championships (2008). You can argue the Pistons were led by Chauncey Billups (but he couldn't get them one after Big Ben left) and Paul Pierce led the Celtics (although he couldn't get the Celtics one without KG), but regardless the last ten years of NBA champions have been dominated by big men (Shaq & Duncan combine for 8). Will Dwight Howard be next on the list of great big men to lead his team to a championship? Or will Kobe Bryant and the Lakers break the cycle?
There are some things to point toward a break in the dominance of big men. Howard is still very young and has never been in a situation like this before. Can he step up and rise above the pressure to prove he has what it takes at this young age to win his team a title? Kobe Bryant has contributed to three championships himself (although Shaq was with him too), and is the best player in the game. He has always been a great closer and clutch player that has gotten his teams deep into the playoffs almost every year. Phil Jackson is one of the all-time great coaches who knows them game just as good as anyone. Also, even when Shaq was young and first with the Magic, he led them to the only other Finals appearance for the Magic. He was swept 4-0 by the Rockets . However, they also had one of the best big men in the game with Hakeem Olajuwon (so Hakeem was just a better big man at that point in their careers).
There have been two all-time great players who have risen above dominate big men and led their team to championships: Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. Yes, both did have very good defensive big men who contributed to their teams' success, but it goes without saying that MJ and Bird were the ones who led the teams to the championships. Now Kobe has been an all time great player, but he is not in the class yet of MJ and Bird. However, if he can led his team this year and win a championships without any dominate big man (like Shaq), then I believe he could be entered into that group of the NBA's greatest wingmen (although it doesn't mean he is just as good or better). He might need to win another one to really solidify that, but I would be satisfied with just this year (but that's just me).
So this is definitely something to think about when watching this year's NBA Finals. Will we see history repeat itself again? Or will we see one of those exceptions when a great player rises above it? Will Dwight Howard be able to handle the pressure and be good enough to lead his team to the championship, or is he still too young and not enough developed offensive game? Can Kobe finally win a championship without Shaq and thus solidify his name on the list of the NBA's greatest wingmen? For me, I've always been a fan of defense and will always root for defense to come out on top. I'm a big Howard fan, but I also remain in a pact between Pistons and Lakers so I cannot officially root against the Lakers. I will be happy with who ever wins the championship this year to be honest, so I will just sit back and enjoy the NBA Finals while the rest of you argue over who is better and who will win. I just figured I'd give you all something more to add to your discussions.
Posted on: March 18, 2009 11:48 pm
Here is my list of the Top 10 Greatest Defenders in NBA History:
1) Bill Russell - This only needs one explanation: 11 championship rings. It was his defense that anchored every last one of those 11 titles he won with the Boston Celtics. They didn't keep track of blocks, steals, or even All NBA Defensive teams in his days, until the end of his career where he was on the very first NBA All Defensive First Team in history. He is the proof that defense is what wins championships, and he will always be remembered for that. He will go down as the greatest defender in history.
Feel free to comment and even make your own list if you wish.
Tags: Alonzo Mourning, Ben Wallace, Bill Russell, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, David Robinson, Dennis Rodman, Dikemebe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin Garnett, lakers, Michael Jordan, Nate Thurmond, Pistons, Shaquille O'Neal, Sidney Moncrief, Spurs, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Wilt Chamberlain
Posted on: March 13, 2009 11:33 pm
Now this isn't just directed at Allen Iverson haters, but anyone that makes the assumption that the Pistons are better off without AI. You only hear people saying that because they either: a) have always hated him since his days on the 76ers and Nuggets, or b) don't pay close enough attention to the Pistons, or c) strong haters of the AI for Chauncey Billups trade, or d) all of the above. Everyone wants to keep saying "I told ya so" about the trade for AI, and the Pistons recent winning streak without him is their latest so called proof of this. Now I'm here to show you all that this is not only completely absurd, but complete ignorance to the fact that the Pistons went on a strong winning streak early in the season without another one of their important players. But how could that be? The media never told us about this?
Posted on: March 13, 2009 11:33 pm
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Posted on: January 6, 2009 7:20 am
When talking about the great defenders in the league, people tend to think of the great post defenders like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, or they might even think about the great help defenders that put up good stats like Marcus Camby or Josh Smith. But the one group of defenders that seem to get the least love is the perimeter defenders. They are the ones that have to cover the best and most dangerous perimeter scorers in the league. They don't put up him great stats like some other defenders, but they always make their defense better by reducing scoring from the opposing team. I think it's about time they get some credit and respect, so I've decided to make my list of Top 10 best perimeter defenders in the league.
Top 10 Perimeter Defenders:
1. Shane Battier
One of the most underrated defenders in all of the NBA. Everyone recognizes him as a good defender, but not as a great one. However, his perimeter is definitely tops in the league and makes him of the Top 5 overall defenders in the entire NBA. He doesn't put up good numbers at all, but that doesn't mean he doesn't play good defense. Bruce Bowen does the same thing, but with dirty tactics, however he has gotten far more credit than Battier; there's something wrong with that. If Battier can do the same (or better) as Bowen without the dirty tactics, then how doesn't he get the same respect? Regardless of how underrated he is, that doesn't change the fact he slow down some of the NBA's best players out on the perimeter better than anyone.
2. Tayshaun Prince
The long armed Prince is a monster defender on the perimeter. Like a lot of other perimeter defenders, he doesn't put up a whole lot of good numbers (until this year), so people don't give him as much credit. He is a big part of the tough Pistons defense that has been so successful over the past few years. He usually has to cover the best perimeter scorer on the opposing team, and has done very well. He's played against Kobe, LeBron, Pierce, etc., and has had games where he slowed them down significantly. He uses his long arms and huge wingspan to block his opponents off from getting easy drives to the basket, and using those long arms to always have a hand in the shooter's face so they get no easy shots.
3. Kobe Bryant
Yes, Kobe can play some good defense and this is key for the Lakers. Not only does Kobe have to be the Laker's primary scorer, but he also has to be their best defender. To go along with scoring points for his team, he also has to prevent the opponent's best perimeter scorer from scoring as well. They don't put Kobe on the worst player either, he has to cover guys like Wade, Joe Johnson, etc. who are all good scorers. Kobe's incredible offense tends to overshadow his defense, but whether you notice it or not, Kobe is actually a very good defender (particularly out on the perimeter).
4. Paul Pierce
He is another guy that is more known for his offense than defense, but still has some very good perimeter defense. He has gotten more recognition for this lately because of how well he played on defense against Kobe in last year's NBA Finals. It may have some to do with Kevin Garnett's influence on defense, but Pierce has always been a good perimeter defender. He knows how to keep his man in front of him, and not get beat to the basket very often.
5. Ron Artest
Now Artest is an all around good defender, and if this were based on overall defense, he might be higher. However, this is only perimeter defense and that isn't his specialty (on ball defense is). He can still play very defense well on the perimeter though. He has tons of strength and uses his big body to stay in front his man, making it very difficult to get by from points in the paint. Artest might not been seen that highly because of his bad attitude in the past, but that doesn't change the fact that he is a very good defender. You can hate him all you want, but you can't deny he has great defense.
6. Caron Butler
Butler has always been a good perimeter defender, but no one knew about it until he started to become a better offensive player on the Wizards. He has the size, speed, and quickness which allow him to stay right with his man and make sure they don't get by him too easily. He is probably a better on ball defender than perimeter defender, but he still has some very good perimeter defense as well.
7. Ronnie Brewer
Probably the second most underrated defender (behind Battier). Like Battier and Prince, he doesn't put up high stat numbers that get him recognition. However, he is able to keep his man from doing a lot of scoring damage. He has tons of speed and athleticism which allow him to stay in front of his man. He has become a very important role player for the Jazz, and that role is slow down the opponent's most dangerous perimeter threat. He is still young and improving, so he could very easily rise higher on this list in a few years.
8. Shawn Marion
Marion, like Artest, is an all around good defender and perimeter defense is just part of his game. He is more of an on ball and help defender, but he can still play some very good perimeter defense. He is one of the most athletic players in the league and uses that to his advantage when playing defense. He may not be putting up the huge numbers he use to on the Suns, but he is still playing very good defense along side Wade which has been a big part of the Heat's success.
9. Andre Iguodala
Iggy is another one of those all around good defenders. He not particularly specialized at anything yet, but he can play any kind of defense very well. He uses his speed and athleticism to stay toe-to-toe with his man and never lets them get an easy shots off. He has kind of regressed this year for the 76ers, but he is still young and will improve (probably being higher on this list in a couple years as well).
10. James Posey
One of the best role players in the game knows how to play good defense. It's not luck that Posey has 2 rings now (from the Heat and Celtics) because he played a big part in both his team's success. Not only does he come off the bench for his 3 point shooting, but he comes in for his great perimeter defense. When they need him to, he will come in and cover the best perimeter scoring threat on the opposing team. He does very well at this, and has been huge for his team's defense and their success.
Honorable Mention (or 11th whatever suits you): Dwyane Wade
He has greatly improved his defense this year and he has the numbers (team stats not just individual stats) to prove it. The reason why I didn't put him on this list is because he's more of an on ball defender. He can cover the perimeter well, but he is more of an on ball defender. He is also a good help defender too, getting lots of steals and blocks to prove that.
Posted on: December 1, 2008 2:09 pm
For some reason this season feels very familiar to this Pistons fan; it's almost like deja vu. It's kind of like the Pistons traded for aging superstar early in the season before. It feels so familiar like the Pistons struggled at first before and then caught fire around the all star break. Wait, now I remember, that was back in 2004 when the Pistons traded for Rasheed Wallace. Didn't the Pistons win the title that year too? Wasn't that the last time when no one (outside of Detroit) believed in the Pistons and gave them no chance against the Lakers? Yes, now it all seems so clear to me.
Please everyone, don't start having faith in the Pistons. It's that type of thinking that has kept them out of the NBA Finals since 2005 against the Spurs. They are a blue collar team that strives off of the hate from everyone else. They can't perform well when everyone believes in the Pistons. They need everyone to doubt them and hate on them so the they can prove everyone wrong. The Pistons know they can win it all, but when they hear everyone else saying and believe in them, they get cocky and overconfident. They no longer have anything prove and work for because they are already seen as great.
The Pistons have been stuck in the ECFs for the last few years because they become too cocky, arrogant, and overconfident (most of which started with Chauncey Billups; not a shot at him but it's the truth). Since the Pistons won the title back in 2004 and went back into the NBA Finals in 2005 everyone believed in the Pistons and expected them to be one of the front runners for the title every year. However, they continued to disappoint us by losing in the Eastern Conference Finals year after year.
Up until now, the Pistons were seen as one of best teams in the East (Top 2) and one of the league (Top 5), but after the Allen Iverson trade people have lost their faith in the Pistons. After the Pistons haven't had too much success since and the Nuggets have with Billups, people are doubting the trade. After both beatings by the Celtics, people no longer believe the Pistons will be able to beat them in the playoffs if they were too meet. Most people will even say the Cavaliers are a better team (despite the Pistons beating them this year), and you might hear a few crazies saying the Magic are better too.
Now I for one love this. Don't get me wrong, I don't like it that the Pistons are losing, but I do enjoy everyone doubting them and not seeing them as such a great team anymore. This is the exact type of things the Pistons need to win the title this year. They need the media and the fans (not Pistons fans, but other NBA fans) to doubt them. That will give them something to work for, something to try to prove. That's the type of team the Pistons are; if they're not hungry enough for a title they won't win it, but if they are then watch out. Allen Iverson really helps with that too. He is an all time great player who is running out of time in his career. He has yet to win a ring, and is really hungry for one. It's just like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen last year with the Celtics. Both are HoF players who wanted to win a ring before their career is over. It will be the same thing AI this year because he wants to add a championship ring to his list of great accomplishments over his career.
Mark my words: Around the all star break (February) the Pistons will start to click. AI will be fully worked into their offense and things will start to run smoothly. Their defense will be great (as usual) and they will continue to play their great style of teamwork. They will get hot all the way through the end of the season and go into the playoffs ready. They will take care of their first two opponents (in the first two rounds), and go into the ECFs. They will most likely face the Celtics who will give them a run for their money. But in the end, the Pistons will be hungry for another title and defeat the Celtics going on to the NBA Finals. And if they make the NBA Finals, I guarantee they win it all and bring a 4th title to Motown!
Now I'm not gonna lie, the money situation helps too. Even if the Pistons some how don't win the title, they will still have lots of option in 2010. Once AI's contract runs out, that leaves them tons of money to sign one (or two) of the numerous superstars who will be free agents in the summer of 2010. They also still have Rodney Stuckey, and anyone who has watched him play knows this guy is a future star. The Pistons will be able to start him within the next few years.
So in summary, haters can continue to hate because it can only be good for the Pistons. They will get things together and once again bring a title to Detroit. I can see the parade already.