Somehow, despite taking another step towards becoming maybe the most effective offensive player ever to play his position, and doing so on a team that went to the 2nd round of the playoffs, Blake Griffin regressed rather drastically in the eyes of #NBArank voters.
His aggregate score (out of 10) dropped from 8.78 after his rookie season to 8.25 today, meaning that a year ago most people gave him 9′s, and this year he got 8′s.
Did he really get worse?
When Kevin Arnovitz defended his 2011 ranking (10th overall), he pointed to his devastating efficiency on the offensive end. Griffin had become a sensation as a dunker, and because of that ability to create and convert the game’s highest-percentage shot, he was incredibly effective even though he was “raw.”
A year later, I get the feeling that people got down on him and it interfered with common sense. This is known as the Blakelash. Rather than appreciate his immense talents, we selectively punish him for his flaws, and for not living up to our unrealistic expectations for him.
John Hollinger (who had Blake 5th on his MVP ballot), wrote about Griffin and Dwight Howard as All-NBA 2nd team selections: “Both may be frustrating, but ultimately their talent and durability still made them more valuable than anyone else we could name.”
Stack him up against Kevin Love (top 10), Dirk Nowitzki (11th), Andrew Bynum (13th), Chris Bosh (18th) and LaMarcus Aldridge (20th), and the perceived dip he took in his second year seems to miss the point.
His PER jumped from 21.9 to 23.4, second only to Love. Detractors point to his defense, but defense is about systems, and the Clippers get no favors in that regard by playing for Vinny Del Negro. Blake had the third-best rebounding rate, the second-best effective field goal percentage (behind Bynum), and by far the best assist rate (16.6%), as well.
Most importantly, we must recognize that “current value” should be equal parts past and present. And since we can’t predict the future — do we really think he’s a 52% free throw shooter, people? — let’s at least be honest about the past.
Blake Griffin was dominant in 2011, just maybe not in the way we expected. I was one of the many who bristled at the flopping and the snarls, but at the end of the day, we don’t get to decide how his domination looks. It just is, and shame on us if we let a misplaced narrative get in the way of the facts.