Shanoff's W.U.C.: Clips, Kobe, Cavs, D-Train

Today's Calls: Blake Griffin vs. the Clippers, Ricky Rubio vs. Hasheem Thabeet, Kobe vs. Carmelo, Cavs vs. Magic, Big Papi vs. D-Train, Mike Vick vs. Humane Society and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Still happy to be No. 1, Blake Griffin? ↵

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↵If there was ever a classic case study for why staying in school is a mistake, it is Blake Griffin. Oh, sure, he will be the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 NBA draft — then again, he will go to the Clippers. For context, the last time the Clippers drafted first, they took Mike Olowokandi. ↵

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↵So Griffin's "reward" for not entering last year's draft: Playing for the league's worst franchise. ↵

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↵If he had come out a year ago, he would have been drafted in the mid-teens, but probably overachieved for his draft spot — he didn't get THAT much more NBA-ready by staying in school for an extra year. He would be playing for a playoff contender. He would be one year closer to free agency. ↵

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↵Now? The NBA's version of purgatory. Sharing the paint with the charming Zach Randolph. Playing for Mike Dunleavy. Being on the afterthought team in a superficial town that won't appreciate Griffin's heartland appeal. And, undoubtedly, having a seat of honor as the "face" of the team at NEXT year's Draft Lottery. ↵

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↵I hope all those college kids out there are paying attention. There was something valuable to learn last night: ↵

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↵You can win the NBA Lottery, yet lose big. ↵

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↵More Lottery Notes: ↵

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↵— The Grizzlies were the big winner, moving up from sixth to second, but how much do they regret wasting that pick on Mike Conley two years ago, with the sensational Ricky Rubio available (they will likely go big with Thabeet) ... ↵

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↵— By moving to third, the Thunder will only create more cachet for themselves as the hot young team in the league (especially if they get Rubio) ... ↵

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↵— Can't get much more hard-luck than the Kings falling to fourth; they need a point guard — how about expat Brandon Jennings? ... ↵

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↵— Of COURSE the Wiz fell to fifth; that pick is as good as traded ... ↵

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↵— Name to Watch: Stephen Curry. Conventional wisdom has him going to the Knicks; I think he will be gone within the Top 5. ↵

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↵Kobe KOs Nuggets: Denver is going to regret letting this one slip away. They had the presumptive champs on the ropes, in L.A., to open their series. Then Kobe “pulled a Kobe,” scoring 18 in the 4th and otherwise carrying the Lakers to a W they didn’t deserve (and Denver “pulled a playoff Nuggets,” a choking version of the team that hadn’t shown up yet in 2009). But that’s why the Lakers will be the West champs. ↵

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↵More NBA: The Cavs' playoffs start tonight. ↵

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↵WWE vs. NBA: The NBA wins. ↵

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↵New Orleans wins Super Bowl 2013: For all of the milestones in the city’s recovery from Katrina — the return of the Saints to the Superdome, the return of the Hornets from Oklahoma City — nothing will be as symbolically rejuvenating as hosting the Super Bowl. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: All aboard the D-Train! ↵

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↵— Big Papi is back: Still can’t hit ↵

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↵— Why Cards are contenders: Overachievement by guys like Joel Pineiro ↵

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↵— Mets no longer “underachieving”: They are just bad ↵

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↵— MLB’s Hottest: Brewers win 7th in a row ↵

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↵— Milestones: Todd Helton gets Hit 2K (finally) ↵

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↵— Fantasy Stud: Dontrelle Willis(!!!) ↵

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↵Mike Vick Watch: Since he was implicated in the dog-fighting scandal, I have said that all Vick needs to rehab his image (and show Roger Goodell appropriate "remorse") is to spend time (and money) working with the Humane Society to become a spokesman for making dog-fighting uncool. Looks like he’s heading in that direction with them, which will expedite his story line of “rehabilitation.” ↵

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↵(Meanwhile: Why don’t baseball stars take that lesson? Aside from the fact that guys like McGwire and Clemens still deny their PED cheating, Mac could have fessed up to it, then immediately devoted his life — and earnings — to educating kids about the dangers of PEDs. He would be in the Hall of Fame right now.) ↵

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↵Tom Brady “Full Go”: He better be, given the Pats just traded their insurance plan for him. ↵

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↵NFL Labor Battle: League and union will start talking next month, if “talking” means “posturing for the inevitable lock-out.” ↵

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↵John Wall to Kentucky, Cont’d: In case you missed it yesterday, you could say I am somewhat high on UK’s chances next season. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Shaq, on TV? It's an obvious fit, although you have to wonder why Shaq needs extra schooling — he seems pretty media-ready to me, as is. (Plus, shouldn't he be teaching Syracuse's vaunted broadcast journalism program about, say, the power of Twitter?) ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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