Since gaining national recognition as a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin has become one of the most exciting basketball players to watch at both the collegiate and professional level.
He does a little bit of everything, but most noticeably, he scores, he rebounds and he dunks — a lot.
There’s no denying Griffin’s talent, and while he may not yet be the best player in the game, he’s earning a reputation as the most exciting.
Even though Griffin won the 2009 Naismith Men?s College Player of the Year Award, North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough was the most popular player in the NCAA for his gutsy play on the way to helping Carolina win the national championship. Hansbrough and the Tar Heels beat Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners in the regional final on their way to the title.
However, the tides have turned and things are boding well for Griffin. On Monday, the two met up guarding one another again, this time on an NBA floor. While Hansbrough played 16 minutes with only two points and three rebounds, Griffin played 37 minutes and dropped a career-high 47 points to go along with 14 rebounds for his 27th consecutive double-double.
Shooting and rebounding remain to be consistent for the power forward. In his sophomore year at Oklahoma, he averaged 22.7 points per game and 14.4 rebounds per game. His stats this year against professional athletes are astonishingly right on par with his OU numbers, averaging 21.9 points per game and 12.7 rebounds per game.
As impressive and important as his stats may be, dunking is Griffin’s most exciting attribute, good enough to earn him a spot in this year’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest. His first official basket in the league even came on a one-handed alley-oop dunk.
It seems like every game for him is a dunk contest. On Dec. 18, he dunked seven times against the Detroit Pistons. On Nov. 20, he dunked over 7’1″ center Timofey Mozgov.
New York Knick Amare Stoudemire applauded the dunk against his own teammate after the game.
“That was actually incredible,” Stoudemire said. “That was a play that definitely sparked the crowd and sparked us. We weren’t expecting that. I’ve had a few of those in my career, so I can understand the feeling he’s going through right now. I’ve been in those shoes before.”
Blake Griffin doesn’t dunk to look pretty, he dunks to punish the rims. It may not be long before he detaches the rim from the backboard.
Teammate Marcus Camby also acknowledges Griffin’s dunking ability.
“Blake Griffin is the most ferocious dunker in the game today,” Camby said, according to Yahoo! Sports. “That dunker used to belong to Dwight Howard. But the way Blake dunks and the way he soars almost above the rim makes it a highlight every time.”
The only thing about Blake Griffin that tempers excitement around him is his team’s 15-25 record. However, the Clippers have won 10 of the last 14 games while beating several of the NBA’s elite teams.
On Dec. 2, he and the Clippers stunned the team with the best record in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs. Griffin contributed 31 points and 13 rebounds.
On Jan. 12, he and the Clippers halted the Heat?s 14-game road winning streak, with 24 points and 14 rebounds for his 30th double-double of the season. His talents bested the trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
On Sunday, he and the Clippers stunned the best team in L.A., a team that has won two of the last three NBA titles ? the Lakers. He had 27 points and engaged in a heated face-to-face argument with Lakers’ Lamar Odom. Either way, Kobe Bryant was impressed.
“Blake just punked us,” the former MVP said following the game.
You can argue that Blake Griffin is the second-best player in Los Angeles behind Bryant, but he?s certainly the most exciting. You can argue that Blake Griffin is not as athletic as James, but it’s Griffin who is the one bringing his talents to this year’s dunk contest, an event James passes on every year.
You can argue that Blake Griffin cannot shoot and control a game as well as Kevin Durant, but he held the former scoring leader to 6-of-24 shooting, and Griffin’s persistent highlight-reel dunks and tough play makes him more entertaining.
Blake Griffin may not be the best player in the NBA, and he may not be making to the NBA Finals anytime soon, but he will win NBA Rookie of the Year and should be given an award for the most exciting player for any sports fan to watch.
Check out some of Griffin?s best work this season in the video below.
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