An interesting take on the strengths and weaknesses of the U23 team.
"They got another bit of good news, too. Eric Gordon, the Clippers' leading scorer who was expected to be out for a month because of a right wrist injury, is now day-to-day and will join the team for its upcoming 10-game road trip, a team spokesperson said."
Some strong words from Adande. Love his response to Odom's quote. Griffin's quote is excellent as well. Bold added for emphasis. "Odom's initial reaction showed how the Lakers were looking for an early checkout and had no interest in battling to the buzzer. "I understand during the game, when we're fighting for position," Odom said. "But they're up 9 with five seconds left. You're going to ram me in my back ... I mean, it was a bad reaction [on Odom's part], but, you know, not at that time." Later he added, "I don't know what you're going to get out of that ram in the back, in that situation." A rebound, perhaps? "There's never a situation when I'm not going to go to the glass," Griffin said. "I would think of all the people, he would know that. I would expect the same thing from anybody else. I don't care if we're up. If the ball comes off, I get the rebound, it seals the game." If you've watched Griffin, you know that's his style. And if you've watched the Clippers, winners of nine of their past 12, you know that as of late they play winning basketball, no matter how much it infringes on their opponents' plans."
"The Blake Griffin train just keeps rolling along. He's getting better and better each and every week and not a night goes by without SportsCenter running a Blake Griffin highlight. Sometimes there are even multiple highlights. The Clippers rookie is one of the most exciting players to watch thanks to his ridiculous athleticism and high-flying dunks. Even though he plays for the inept Los Angeles Clippers, he still will undoubtedly win the league's MVP award at some point in the near future. It won't be this year, but he will be on the ballots time after time in the future."
The most in-depth article I've seen so far on what will be a hot topic for quite some time - whether the Clips organization can keep its core together. Interesting to hear the perspective of former Clips as well.
"Griffin has registered seven or more assists on five occasions this season, a mark surpassed by only one forward or center (LeBron James) in the league. He has reached that mark more often than the starting point guards Aaron Brooks and Darren Collison, and is just one seven-assist game short of matching Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Manu Ginobili’s totals for the year. Nothing about Griffin – from his insane athleticism to his unique rebounding style – is typical, which makes it fitting that he has stepped into a unique class of passing big men. The overtly dominant aspects of Griffin’s play have made him one of the season’s greatest delights, but his game clearly stretches beyond the scoring and rebounding columns. His effectiveness transcends 'SportsCenter.' Griffin is the reigning king of N.B.A. spectacle, but his passing aptitude should serve as a reminder of the substance in his game. The dunks are great, but it’s his multiple-layered impact that has paved his early road to stardom."
Remember that article on most improved players from Team USA when Stein didn't include Gordon? And then Stein responded (tweeted?) later that he didn't include Gordon because his three point shooting was way down? Well, someone has noticed the upward trend... "Arguments can be made [for MIP] for any and all of the following: ... Eric Gordon of the Los Angeles Clippers … who has responded to his perceived snub from yours truly and the high standards laid out in the aforementioned Team USA piece by shooting 43 percent on 3s in December and playing the best all-around ball of his life."
"In the middle of this game, Timberwolves analyst Jim Petersen didn't think twice before including Blake Griffin in a group of the greatest all-time in-game dunkers. Soon after, without even the benefit of yet another Griffin throw-down, he didn't think twice before calling Blake the greatest in-game dunker in NBA history. "And while that may seem like a bit much, just seven weeks into his NBA career ... who else? Seriously. Who else do you have?"
It's only available via Insider, but here are the most relevant parts. "Forget the Los Angeles Clippers' off-court melodrama and their league-worst record. Beneath the carnage of 20 losses and the oppressive cloud of owner Donald Sterling, the Clippers are one of the most fascinating squads in the league. They're the NBA's version of a car wreck -- equal parts painful and captivating to watch. "The Clippers' woeful 5-20 record places them at the bottom of the league standings, but few teams can rival their bounty of talented youth....It's a bizarre season in Clipperland, but the trio of Gordon, Aminu and Griffin have delivered L.A. fans a glimmer of hope, developing faster than anyone could have reasonably anticipated. Sterling's antics have stolen the headlines recently, but these youngsters have given us plenty of reason to watch."
A nice assessment (sans the vitriol of Woj, Simmons, etc.) by the New York Times... plus a few excellent quotes, including one from Artest below: "His highlights are sick," said Lakers forward Ron Artest, repeating the declaration as if speaking in capital letters. "I wish he dunks on me. I’m not going to lie. I hope he dunks on me, puts his shoulders on my face and like, ‘Aaaaah!’ Just crazy. Lights it up. His highlights are stupid."
This is why Blake is the best: "I thought we handled it well," Griffin told CBSSports.com. "We had guys stick up for our teammates. That's what you like to see. I just think you've got to keep that attitude, you can't let people punk us. I'm not saying that's what Portland was trying to do, but we can't back down from anybody."
"Griffin said he wouldn't mind competing in the dunk event during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. 'If they ask me to do it, I'll do it,' Griffin said." Also in the article is more praise for Blake -- this time from Carmelo and George Karl.
Some nice words for all three rookies. "1. Blake Griffin, Clippers Griffin's 44-point, 15-rebound and 7-assist performance on Saturday was inevitable, and we'll see more outbursts like this from him going forward. In a fast-paced game, when the opponent is a team that does not clog the lane with space-eaters or shot-blockers, Griffin will use his agility and quickness to nimbly weave through defenders and get to the rim constantly. Once there, his explosiveness takes care of the rest. His combination of power, agility, quickness and size makes him unique. Mix in his ferocious desire to pound and embarrass opponents at the rim, and you get a prototypical power forward for the new NBA (save his lack of a shooting stroke -- he has a pronounced hitch and a wrist turn that is difficult to replicate consistently). As it stands today, he might be, and probably is, the best slashing power forward in the game. When his defender moves toward the ball and away from him as a helper, it is difficult to rotate back as the ball arrives to Griffin's hands. He takes up too much space too quickly and is 12 feet up in the air before the defender can react. The Clippers are a terrible team, but Griffin gives them hope for the future. 5. Eric Bledsoe, Clippers Yes, his turnovers are up and his assists are down, but overall he's a dynamic young guy playing 30 minutes a night in a tough situation for a rookie point guard, considering he's often trying to lead four other young guys on the court. Relative to the rest of the NBA, the youngest Clippers are just kids. Imagine being a babysitter when you were 11 years old, and the four kids you were watching were 11, too. However, Baron Davis or the coaching staff has done a good job teaching him not to rush everything as much as he was. I love how he is competing on defense and the boards, too. He's in the top 10 in rebound rate among all NBA point guards, which isn't a surprise when considering how long and fast he is and how he goes to the glass every time. It's a great sign to see him that locked in. He's also shooting the ball OK and not just chucking up shots. 6. Al-Farouq Aminu, Clippers Coming on strong, Aminu makes it three Clippers in the top 6. He's still picking his spots to race the floor and having a difficult time defending small forwards who use screens -- simply because he's never had to do that before -- but the truth is he'll definitely get better in both areas. And fairly fast. Meanwhile, he is 13 for 24 from 3-point land (54 percent) and scored 16 points in the Clippers' huge win against the Hornets on Monday. It was his sixth double-figure scoring night in his last 8 games, and his true shooting percentage is creeping to the magical 60 percent mark (58.8 -- third among non-center rookies). Another plus for Aminu is his effort on the glass, where I think he can be special. He plays some minutes at the 4 for this reason and probably will continue to do so. An Aminu-Griffin frontline will surely present some matchup nightmares for opponents in the future."
A worthwhile, if fairly predictable, piece. The most interesting part is at the end where VDN communicates the extent to which he believes in EJ.
Although this was written before the Detroit game, it's still an interesting, reasonably balanced read.
It's in Insider so I have pasted the piece we care about. At the current rate, I expect Aminu will be on this list in a few weeks. For rookie surprises: "2. Eric Bledsoe, Clippers Bledsoe was simply dreadful in Vegas summer league for the most part. He showed incredible talent physically, but little ability to run a team or be a good decision-maker. However, after replacing an injured Baron Davis in the starting lineup, Bledsoe has looked more adept at finding ways to use his great athleticism. And his shooting has looked better, too. He's still more dangerous in transition than he is in the half court, but he's starting to look more composed and patient in this area. Here's the part I like best: In his first four starts, he had seven steals, four blocked shots and two offensive rebounds. That's finding a way to help your team win." In overall rookie rankings, Griffin is now #1: "Blake Griffin, Clippers We all expected to see Griffin pounding dunks home, finishing shots inside, and rebounding the leather off the ball. But I'm also impressed with his patience on isolations, specifically his use of shot fakes before he drives. He still has to improve the look of those fakes (make them look more like shots) but using them is a big first step. Griffin has shown a decent turnaround jump shot, too, which is a must-have weapon with the shot clock winding down. And his jump hook is money. He looks confident scoring over or around any defender."
For those who don't know, The Pest is Ramona Shelburne. Most personal, in-depth article written so far.
Somebody at AOL Fanhouse likes Griffin. "That's what made Griffin's dunk so freakin' loud. Not only was it the kind of highlight that begs repeated watching, even if you're a lifetime opponent of the cult of SportsCenter -- men that big just aren't supposed to get up like that. It was a stark reminder of what Blake Griffin will do to the NBA next season, as a rookie who time forgot. Even more so than the Heat's six minutes of glory, it was a revelation -- summer league's abject thrill of discovery spiked with substance."
"In my opinion, Blake Griffin is the front runner for the Rookie Of The Year award. That isn’t a knock on John Wall or DeMarcus Cousins, who are both fantastic players (and I hope to look at each of their preseason at some point), but that is how much Griffin has impressed me of late. He is so explosive around the rim, and that really helps when it comes to his offense and rebounding. When it comes to his weaknesses, a good chunk of the turnovers and the losing focus issue will go away with playing time. If he can get his FT shooting figured out, that is a real scary player."
A good read. Some nice quotes from Blake, but perhaps the most important one (especially the last sentence) was at the very end of the article from Baron, which is below: "I'm 110 (percent) right now," [Baron] said when asked about his level of excitement to play with this group. "You can ask all the players right now. I'm up shouting, talking. We've got a real talented group of kids. They love the game. They're working hard. And for me being the older guy on the team it makes me feel younger, makes me want to go out and work just as hard as they work."
"Despite that obstacle, the Nuggets have escalated their efforts to shop other teams' players around the league in an effort to see what assets could be received for them after acquiring them in an Anthony trade. Denver has explored such an avenue for the Clippers' Chris Kaman, the Bulls' Luol Deng, the Nets' Devin Harris and the Bobcats' Gerald Wallace, sources say.... Kaman was discussed in a Melo swap about a month ago, sources say, but the discussions died quickly when it became evident that the Nuggets wanted Eric Gordon in addition to one of the most valuable first-round picks in the league -- Minnesota's pick, which is top-10 protected in 2011 and unprotected in '12. Given that they have Nene, the Nuggets didn't value Kaman beyond his contract as a tool to make the deal work under league trade rules; Kaman makes $11.8 million this season and $12.7 million in '11-12. The Clippers, sources say, would favor a deal that does not include Kaman -- particularly since keeping him would enhance Anthony's belief that he would be part of a top-tier team in the West with a core of Kaman, Baron Davis, Blake Griffin and himself. The wild card in that scenario is Anthony's affinity for Los Angeles, which is shared by his wife, actress La La Vasquez."
After repeating Coach K's quote (see Sheridan's article on ESPN) that all of his USA teammates want EJ to shoot when he is open, DJ neatly encapsulates much of what has been debated on Clipsnation this summer. Interesting to note that DJ references both the coach and the players as partly to blame for EJ's status on the Clips, so there is enough grist for everyone to say that DJ supports their cause: "Would Gordon get the same response from the Clippers locker room? It’s a little disheartening that the answer to that isn’t definitive, but let’s not have that distract us from what Gordon is doing in international play right now. Gordon has always been an efficient scorer, and with an absolute green light from his coaching staff and teammates, he’s flourished because he’s been allowed to. That isn’t to say that the previous coaching regime stifled Gordon’s abilities, but the players on the court didn’t exactly provide the proper environment for him to do his best work, and a large majority of the offensive plays weren’t dialed up with Gordon exclusively in mind. The lane has always been crowded, the player on the opposite wing has never been a playmaking threat, and in his time as a Clipper, ball movement has been a theory more than a practice. It’s still extremely difficult to get a gauge on where Gordon stands as a player. Is he an average shooting guard? Above average? Does he have the potential to be one of the best in the league? An all-star? A nice role player? No one really knows, and at 21 years of age, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. We’ll see what kind of future is in store for Gordon, but assertive performances like this one lead you to believe it will be a bright one."
"After a bad 1st half, Team USA defeated Tunisia 92-57 led by 21 points off the bench by Eric Gordon. Maybe he should be starting at SG, eh?" Sheridan has come a long way in his assessment of Gordon. Even if it doesn't happen, it's remarkable to see how far Gordon has come... just a few weeks ago, some/many on this site thought he wouldn't (or shouldn't) even make the team. Well done for Eric.
A lot more love for our man... " 'He has been consistently excellent, and the guys I know have great confidence in him,' Krzyzewski said after Saturday's win." " 'Not just (Saturday), but the whole summer he's been playing great,' Team USA forward Rudy Gay said of Gordon, who played a team-high 22 minutes against Croatia and shot 6-of-8 overall. 'He's been a real spark off the bench. For us, he's been a great player. I've known that for a while.' "
"The task of receiving anywhere near market value for Anthony in trade only figures to be more difficult with a growing perception the 6-foot-8 Denver forward is more interested in winning an Oscar than an NBA title. As a league executive told me: Anthony used to bleed basketball. But if you opened him up now and looked inside, what could be found closest to the player's heart? A love of the game? Or the desire to be a Hollywood star?" An interesting read, but for me the most troubling part revolves around his motivations once he gets to LA. Between him and Baron, that makes for two wannabe film moguls. Do they spend their time off the court working out or taking meetings with studio heads in Beverly Hills?
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