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News » Why Griffin could go first in draft

Why Griffin could go first in draft

Why Griffin could go first in draft
Blake Griffin will start a game like any other 19-year-old, lightheartedly dancing to Kevin Rudolph's "Let it Rock" while seated on the bench during pre-game introductions.

But when the ball is thrown up, Griffin throws out the fun and games, and the Oklahoma forward shows why he's regarded as the consensus No. 1 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft.

Against an outmatched but tough-minded Colorado team at Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday, Griffin tallied what's become his customary stat line of 26 points and 12 rebounds in a 77-72 win.

But the box scores, no matter how mind-boggling they've become for Griffin, do little to reveal his true value.

Watch the 6-foot-10 Griffin for 40 minutes, and you'll undoubtedly walk away most impressed with his athleticism. He explodes off the ground and engulfs rebounds before teammates and opponents have even left the floor. He streaks the length of the court and throws down alley-oop dunks with ease.

But what the television cameras don't catch is Griffin's unselfishness. How rather than beating his own chest after slamming home a 55-foot lob pass from teammate Willie Warren, he pats Juan Pattillo on the rear for the blocked shot that led to the run out. How rather than forcing shots in the post, he coolly passes out of double teams, often leading to an assist for himself or a teammate.

The fundamentals stand out, too.

Griffin employs a textbook box out on every shot. He makes himself a big target on the low block by flashing hard with arms raised. He skillfully directs traffic from the post with a clinched fist and a pointed thumb that hints his IQ for the game extends well past his years.

Griffin can also guard the perimeter and play the passing lanes for easy steals. On one possession Saturday, his perimeter defense led to a one-man fastbreak that ended with a jaw-dropping windmill dunk.

But Griffin is far from a finished product. Much of his scoring comes from within eight feet of the basket, mostly on dunks and an occasional running hook. Griffin's jump shot needs a lot of work if he'll ever expand his game and get the most out of his physical gifts. And any trip to the foul line at this point is an adventure.

"He's one of the hardest working kids I've been around as far as working on his game and trying to improve and get better," said Sooner coach Jeff Capel. "He's very driven."

Said Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik: "From what I can tell, I think his head and heart are in the right place. I noticed he said thank you to a ball boy after he was wiping the floor.

"If his head and heart remain true, and the Lord continues to bless him with great health, he has a great future in this game."


A look at Griffin's improvement from his freshman year to his sophomore season. 1 Stat 2007-08 2008-09 Points 14.7 22.3 Rebounds 9.1 14.0 Assists 1.8 2.5 Blocks 0.8 1.3 Steals 1.0 1.3 Field goal % 56.8 63.3 Free throw % 58.9 58.8 Minutes 28.4 33.1


Sacramento forward John Salmons, who the Thunder reportedly recently sought to acquire in a trade for Smith, continues to hear his name in trade rumors. According to a report in the Sacramento Bee, the Thunder recently offered Smith for Salmons. The Bee reports Salmons has also attracted interest from San Antonio.

"It just one of those things where you can't really let it affect you and what you do on the court," said Salmons, who finished with 23 points and 11 assists Sunday. "You've just got to stay focused and whatever happens is going to happen."

When asked about the possiblity of playing for the Thunder, Salmons said, "That's not official yet. Rumors are rumors. If it happens then I'll have a thought on it. But it hasn't gone down yet so I'm still a Sacrament King."

Salmons, 29, is in his seventh year out of Miami (Fla.) and is averaging career-highs of 18.7 points and 3.5 assists to go with 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 49 games. The 6-foot-6-guard/forward has two years remainigh on his contract following this year totaling about $11.2 million.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: February 12, 2009


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