HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The conversation lasted nearly the entire season with Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans and Steph Curry all spent time in the top spot before Evans snagged Rookie of the Year honors.
If you remember back to the 2009 draft, none of those guards was pegged as the early favorite for ROY honors. That honor belonged to No. 1 overall pick and Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin.
I know he’s dropped off of a lot of people’s radar since missing the entire season recovering from a cracked left kneecap suffered during the preseason, but have you heard what the Clippers are saying about him these days?
They are praising Griffin in ways that make us believe he’ll be more than just temporary factor in the ROY race this season (hold off on handing the hardware over to Washington’s John Wall just yet).
“We think Blake is a star,” Clippers VP of basketball operations Neil Olshey told my main man Eric Pincus of Hoopsworld. “I think he’s one of the great ones. He’s got a chance based on his work ethic, his commitment and his God-given ability. He’s going to be a great player and he’s going to be a part of our organization for a long time.”
Sure, you figure Olshey has to praise a No. 1 pick selected on his watch. But this isn’t just cover-your-own-tail rhetoric coming out of Clipperland. Olshey said the Clippers gave no thought to trying to deal Griffin for Carmelo Anthony (not that the Clippers were on Anthony’s rumored short list anyway).
Around here we put more stock in peer evaluation. And Griffin’s teammates are just as giddy about his potential as anyone in the front office. We spoke with Baron Davis earlier this summer on the Hang Time Podcast and he mentioned that he didn’t have to spend time advising a player with Griffin’s maniacal work ethic about the rigors that await.
Clippers All-Star center Chris Kaman also sees something special in Griffin, his new running mate in the frontcourt.
“They have to tell him to slow down and not work as much,” Kaman told Hoopsworld. “If you let him go he’ll run himself into the ground. He just loves it and eats it up. He’s a special player with his athleticism and strength and very explosive. I know I’m saying a lot but I’m looking for big things out him.”
As are we here at the hideout. While it remains painfully early to start the Rookie of the Year debate, we just want to make sure no one uses Griffin’s season-long absence to keep him out of the collective consciousness. Because if things play out as we think they might, he could be right there with Wall and Sacramento’s DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins in a three-man race for the top spot.