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: 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: June 13, 2008 11:08 am
Since everyone else is posting there teams, I guess I will to.
PG- Jason Kidd
Top 5 All Time PG that has everything you want in a point guard. He is a great passer, good defender, and great floor general/leader. He can penetrate the D and kick it out to the open man, or he can run up the court and dish to the streaking man or alley oop it to the big man. He can play good D on any type of PG and has some good speed (this when he was in his prime, not now). He's not a great scorer, but he's not as useless any Ben Wallace either. He can shoot the 3 ball very well, and can make some good drives throw the lane sometimes.
SG- George Gervin
The Iceman. At first he was called "Iceberg Slim" because he looked like a pimp with that name, but it eventually became "Iceman" because he had ice in veins when he shooting. He won 4 scoring titles in his career, and only MJ and Wilt got more. Jerry West said that Gervin was the only player he would pay money to watch. Some of his former teammates and coaches said he could score so well, sometimes it looked too easy for him. They said sometimes it looked like he got bored out there because it was too easy. One coach even said he thought Gervin could score any time he wanted to. He is one of the Top 5 SG of all time, and one of the greatest scorers in history.
SF- Grant Hill
In Grant's first 6 years with the Pistons, he did things only a few have done in their careers. He became only the 3rd player behind Wilt and Elgin Baylor to lead his team in points, rebounds, and assists more than one year. Wilt and Hill are the only 2 players in history to lead their team in points, rebounds, and assists 3 times. After his first 6 season he got 9,393 points, 3,417 rebounds and 2,720 assists. Only Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird have done better in their first 6 years. In his 95-96 season he amassed 21.4 ppg 9.0 rpg 7.3 apg and 1.8 spg. He became only the 2nd player besides Larry Bird to ever have over 20 ppg 9 rpg and 7 apg in a season. Hill was much like Scottie Pippen, as he assumed the role of "point forward" where he ran the offense. After those season he became injury prone after hurting his ankle in the 99-00 season, but this tourney is when guys were in their prime. When he was in his prime, he was a great all around forward.
PF- Jerry Lucas
Jerry was not an athletic freak or flashy player, but was a hard worker and had great determination that helped him do what few have done. He was able to win a championship at every level of basketball; high school, college, and the pros (60's Olympics, not NBA title). Lucas was a great rebounder, and one of the great history in fact. His 15.6 rpg over his career ranks 4th all time behind Russell, Wilt, and Pettit. He even averaged over 20 rpg a few times as well in his career. Him and Pettit are the only forwards to ever do that. He is also the only forward in history to ever pull down 40 rebounds in a game. He was also a good scorer as well. To go along with his post moves, he can shoot very well from deep. In fact, the majority of his points were from long range. What's even more impressive is his 49.9% FG over his entire career while shooting mainly from outside the paint. Jerry could have won an NBA title, but was on a divided team when he was on the Cincinnati Royals with Oscar Robertson. This was when racism and prejudice were still a big deal. Even though most knew Robertson was the better player, Lucas was marketed as the team's star and leader. This upset Oscar because he felt it was due to him being black and Jerry being white.
C- Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem "The Dream" was one of the greatest players in history and one of the greatest defenders as well. He was one of the most athletic and versatile centers in history (if not the most). He is one of only 4 players to get a quadruple double in game; thus proving his versatility. He could score so well in the post with his great footwork and soft touch around the rim. Combine that with his great fakes and great offensive rebounding, he was feared force in the post on offense. But everyone knows it was his defense that really stood out. 2 time DPOY, Hakeem was a Top 3 all time defender. Not only could he block and rebound, but he could put pressure on his man and got quite a bit of steals as well. He could shut down the paint and could guard the perimeter as well. His great all around game earned him 2 titles and a MVP as well. In his 93-94 season, he became the only player in history to win the MVP, DPOY, and Finals MVP in the same year.
BE- G Alvin Robertson
Robertson was known for his great defense. He was one of the best defensive guards in history. He also has some versatility being 1 of only 4 players to have a quadruple double in a game. He led the league in steals 3 times in his career, and has the all time best steals per game average with 2.71 over his career. In 1986 he became the inaugural of the Most Improved Player award.
BE- G Mo Cheeks
Mo was one of the greatest defending PG's in history. He was much like Jason Kidd in not being know for his scoring, but more for his defense and great floor general/leader abilities. He took the 76ers to 3 NBA Finals winning 1 in 1983. His career numbers speak for themselves. He amassed 7,392 assists over his career putting him 9th all time in that. He also got 2,310 steals over his career putting him 4th all time in that; also with a 2.10 spg average putting him 10th all time.
BE- F Michael Cooper
Another great defender (it's kind of trend going on my team) that won the DPOY in 1987. His defense helped in the Lakers 5 championships. He could play both guard positions and the SF position on offense, and always covered the other team's best scorer at the 2 or 3 spot on defense. Larry Bird has always said the Cooper played better defense on him than anyone he ever faced. He was not a great scorer, but was used a lot in the Laker's offense. They even designed a play such for him, where he streaked to the basket and got a alley oop. It was dubbed the "Coop-a-loop." He was a good 3pt shooter as well shooting 34% from the 3pt line in his entire career.
BE- F Elton Brand
Brand is good in the post on both offense and defense. He doesn't have monster height only standing at 6'8", but uses his size (254 lbs) and surprising athleticism to out play his opponents. He has great post moves, is good rebound, and a good shot blocker as well. He averages 20.3 ppg 10.2 rpg and 2.1 bpg over his career.
BE- F/C Pau Gasol
The Spaniard is not a great defense by any means due to the fact that he is "soft." There's no getting around that, so I'm not going to even try use any excuses. Instead I will focus on what he is good at....his offense. He is a good post scorer as well as having a good mid range shot as well. He is near ambidextrous making him even more difficult to defend in the post. He is an underrated shot block though averagign 1.8 over his career. So he can play some defense once in awhile.
I'm loving my team right now, and it may not look like the best team but I believe it is the best evenly balanced team. I just hope the voters will see the same way even though I have some older guys from the 60's and 70's (Gervin and Lucas) that many might not be too familiar with.
Posted on: February 7, 2008 9:15 pm
I am sorry to rain on your parade Lakers and Suns fans, but even though you guys just got done pulling off some major blockbuster deals; you still won't win the Title this year! Okay, before you get all bent out of shape on me let me explain myself.
Yes, we all know the West is much better than the East. Yes, the Lakers just got a heck of a lot better after trading Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, two 1st Round picks, and rights to Marc Gasol to the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol, and this definately makes you much better of a team. Most likely contenders for the championship as well. The Suns....well some people thinks it makes them better trading Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks for Shaquille O'Neal. I think they are kidding themselves. Of course the Suns will no longer be able to run their "run n gun" style of offense with Shaq. Any other style won't work for them. They don't have a whole lot of defense, and they don't have the rebounding to run any type of slower offense. It just won't work. Plus, no matter how much Shaq wants to win another title, it won't make up for the fact that he is not even close to being able to dominate again. He can be a good guy to plug up the middle with his size, and give you a little offense but nothing that's going to put you "over the edge" to win a championship. The Suns will become worse with this trade, but believe what you want you will see soon enough.
Now, the East may be weak and only have a few teams that can contend for the title, but this year they are the best in my opinion. The Celtics have been one of the favorites since they aquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the offseason. They still have the best record in the league, and still are allowing the fewest points per game in the league as well. This team can be dangerous. Yes, they are not the deepest team, and yes without KG or Paul Pierce they would be in a lot of trouble (see the recent games since KG has been out). As long as they have those guys though, then they could be in this years NBA Finals.
Now, onto my favorite team, the Detroit Pistons. Of course I expect them to go to the Finals and win it all this year (what other Pistons fan doesn't?). I have good reason though to believe it; not just my homer opinion. They are still one of the best, if no the best, defenses this year. They are currently 2nd in fewest points allowed per game (to the Celtics). They are have the 2nd best record in the East, and one of the top records in the entire NBA. Chauncey, Rip, Rasheed, Tay, McDyess, etc. are all playing great and just as good as usual. Their bench continues to shine with Jason Maxiell playing big this year. Also, rookies Aaron Afflalo and Rodney Stuckey are given some good production off the bench.
The reason why the Pistons and Celtics have a better chance to win than the Lakers, Suns, Spurs, etc. is because of what everyone already knows: the East is weaker than the West. The Pistons and Celtics don't have much other competition besides each other. The Cavaliers and Magic look like the only two other "real" threats in the East. I don't believe any other team will give either one much trouble. One of these two teams will be in the Finals. Once they get there, whatever Western team makes it will be so tired from fighting their way through the other teams that they won't be able to handle either the Pistons or Celtics.
Not to mention that I believe these two teams are still the best two teams in the league, but that's just my opinion; I'm bringing you the facts on this. People continue to say how weak the East is, but that will be the reason why either Celtics or Pistons (Pistons of course) will win the 2007-2008 NBA Finals. Sorry to break the bad news to you guys, but it's gonna happen. Maybe next year Western fans, but this year is the year of the EAST!