Any time you start to doubt Blake Griffin, take a look at this quote from Chad Ford: “Thomas (Memphis, TN): How legit is Blake Griffin as a #1 pick in the NBA? Chad Ford: I just spent the day with him in San Francisco on Monday. All I can say is wow. The physical tools are amazing and the workout he goes through everyday is the most grueling I’ve ever seen. Griffin looks like he’s training to be a Navy SEAL. However, what was really impressive was the basketball part with former Spurs head coach Bob Hill. He’s much more skilled offensively than you think. Excellent ball handler and nice stroke with some three point range. And he’s a nice, grounded kid with a very cool family. I was super impressed.”
Also: Craig (LA): “Which lottery team is the best situation for Blake Griffin? Chad Ford: If I’m Griffin I’m praying that the Knicks or Thunder win the lottery. Worst case scenario for him is the Clippers or Timberwolves.” Basically just read the whole chat. Lots of info about Griffin as well as Steph Curry, Jrue Holliday and Hasheem Thabeet. I think Ford has a story coming on Griffin later today and I’ll update when it’s out. He said he’s going to watch Thabeet work out today so that should be interesting.
I thought this was an interesting post from Bullets Forever in regards to the whole Rubio-Griffin debate: “The point guards on that list certainly aren’t terrible, but Tony Parker is the only PG on that list who made it to the All-Star Game in the same year that he also won the championship, and that was only in the 2007 season. On the other hand, every big man on that list played in the All-Star Game with the exception of Duncan in ’99, since there was no game because of the lockout. Furthermore, the top 3 big men of the decade (Shaq, Duncan, and Garnett) all have titles to their name, whereas the only one of the three best point guards of the decade (Kidd, Nash, and Billups) has won a championship. Recent history shows strong support for putting more importance on an elite big man rather than top point guard, but this year may start to turn those tides a little bit. More likely than not, this year’s champion is either going to be the Cavaliers or the Lakers. If that’s the case, the best big man on those two teams are Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Pau Gasol. Both solid big men but neither is on the same level as Shaq, Duncan, or Garnett. Then again, just because it doesn’t look like an elite big man will walk away with a title this year doesn’t mean that the elite point guards are starting to make the NBA a point guard driven league since the most likely candidates to win a title this year are Mo Williams and Derek Fisher. Again, both are nice players, but neither would be mistaken for an elite point guard.” That’s good stuff. I wish I had thought of that.
A little getting to know you with Rob Hennigan: “On average, Hennigan is on the road anywhere from 17 to 23 nights a month in the standard basketball season, from October to March. He estimates he sees about a combined 100 college and international basketball games a year. He’s been to all but three states – North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana – and about 14 countries, including Australia, France, Spain, Germany, Finland, Italy, Russia, Serbia, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. Aside from English, Hennigan can speak only some Spanish, even after eight years of language classes. But Hennigan, a Boston native, is a former player himself. A pure jump shooter who seldom came across a shot he didn’t like, Hennigan became Emerson College’s all-time leading scorer and was the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Player of the Year for three straight seasons.”
Kevin Durant finished a distant third in Most Improved voting: “The New Jersey Nets’ Devin Harris finished second with 339 points (43 first-place votes), followed by Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder with 83 points (six first-place votes). Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third place vote received.”
Sean Deveney’s mock draft: “Oklahoma City Thunder. James Harden, SG, Arizona State. The Thunder usually do something unpredictable with the draft, and usually wind up being right. Conventional wisdom would have them select a big man, like Jordan Hill, with this pick, but the team also needs some scoring punch off the bench, and Harden would make an ideal sixth man. The need for size can be addressed through trades or the free-agent market. The Thunder do have some cap flexibility, too, which could put them in position to collect more picks later in this draft, as cash-strapped teams look to unload picks.”
Gary Washburn of Fanhouse on Clay Bennett and Seattle’s legislature: “Well … the city of Seattle and state of Washington had a juicy chance to stick it to Bennett where it hurts by passing Senate Bill 6116, which would have helped revive KeyArena to current NBA standards as well as a much-needed face lift for the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium, which can’t live off its gorgeous view of the Puget Sound forever. Instead, the state of Washington legislature spent more time debating the bill than actually adjusting it and allowed the plan to basically die before being voted on. The legislative session ended two weeks ago without a vote and there is little chance for a special session to revive the bill. So not only did the city of Seattle ruin a chance to snatch $30 million from the despised Bennett, KeyArena will sit untouched indefinitely, making Seattle a much less attractive carrot for NBA owners looking to relocate their teams … If the year ends without a passed bill to rebuild KeyArena, Bennett retains his $30 million and is essentially proven right on his assertions that Washington was not prepared to keep the Sonics.”
Shaun Livingston had a chat on ESPN.com yesterday: “Sean: Oklahoma City looks like it has a bright future; what else besides experience do you guys need to be a playoff team? What kind of role do you see yourself in? Shaun Livingston: Besides experience, we definitely need team chemistry on both the offensive and defensive end. I see myself as an x-factor kind of guy. I can help the team win more games and take it to the next level my making it to the playoffs.”
Dell Curry says there is no promise to Stephen from the Knicks: “I don’t know where that came from,” Curry said. “I’ve never spoken to Donnie Walsh at all. Stephen doesn’t have an agent, so that’s news to me. That definitely wasn’t the reason for Stephen leaving school. I don’t know how you can guarantee anybody stuff this early. The lottery results haven’t even come out. That was surprising. There’s no truth to it on my end.”
HoopsWorld has a great list to see what teams have worked out what players: Oklahoma City is just one of three teams to work out anybody yet. But that list will begin to fill up soon.
UPDATE: Chad Ford’s excellent article on Blake Griffin: “Many top picks at this time of year are getting fitted for their suit on draft night and flying around the country trying to ink endorsement deals. Griffin is an exception. He’s more concerned with dominating right out of the gate. Griffin said last year that he didn’t declare for the 2008 NBA draft because he didn’t feel he was ready for the league. This year he knows he is. And he’s determined to prove it. On the court, his workout is run by former Spurs and Sonics head coach Bob Hill, whose regimen on Monday highlighted a couple of talents we didn’t see from Griffin when he was at Oklahoma. First, Griffin appears to be a much better ballhandler than your average big man, excelling at two-ball and three-ball drills as well as change-of-direction drills. In fact, he had a better handle than anyone else on the court, including combo guard Anthony Goods. Second, Griffin can shoot the ball with range. He’s no Ray Allen, but he showed the ability to consistently hit the college 3-point shot in the workout. If he can just make a 15-foot jumper in the NBA, he could be unstoppable.”