There in no doubt that Blake Griffin has had an unbelievable rookie season. The player he has most been compared to in his first healthy year in the NBA has been Amare Stoudemire. For good reason. In 2009, Draft Express detailed how close the two were. Besides being the same height (6’10”) and only 6 lbs. apart in weight, Griffin’s no step vert and max vert were identical to Stoudemire’s. Their lane agility and 3/4 court sprint were virtually identical, with Griffin being slightly stronger, and Amare having a bit longer wingspan.
|Weight||251 lbs.||245 lbs.|
|Max Vertical Reach||35.5”||35.5”|
|No Step Vert||32”||32”|
|Lane Agility Time||10.95s||11.19s|
|¾ Court Sprint Time||3.28s||3.25s|
Figure 1: Griffin-Stoudemire Combine Comparison (Courtesy: DraftExpress.com)
On top of all this, Amare is having a solid year himself, leading the New York Knicks to a winning record. So why then has Blake Griffin already asserted himself as a better all-around player than Amare? We’ll tell you.
1. Blake Griffin is a beast on the boards.
Within his first few months in the NBA, Griffin has established himself along with Kevin Love as one of the great young rebounders in the NBA. His rebounding averages have increased each month during his first 4 months in the NBA, rising to an astonishing 14.5 rpg in January. This contrasts with Amare, who is a well below average rebounder at the PF/C position (a fact that has prevented him from reaching fantasy basketball elite). During his career, Stoudemire has surprisingly NEVER averaged double digits in rebounds and has a career average of 8.9 rpg.
Blake’s biggest strength may be his ability to jump in sequence. His has been often compared to a human pogo stick.
2. Blake Griffin has hands of glue.
The first thing the casual observer notices about Griffin may be his hands. His soft hands allow him to catch passes in difficult situations, while the size and strength of his hands make it nearly impossible to strip the ball from him once he has the ball in or near possession. While Amare Stoudemire has huge hands in his own right, he does not have the pure hand strength that Griffin does. This in part has resulted in his low career rebound averages.
3. Amare just doesn’t pass the ball.
If there’s one thing other than rebound that Amare doesn’t do, it’s pass. Stoudemire has been a miserable passer his entire career (especially considering he spent most of his time with one of the NBA’s most prolific offenses). Throughout his career, he has averaged a measly 1.4 apg, or in other words, a couple of kick outs to Raja Bell each game. Blake Griffin, on the other hand, has shown an unusual knack for making the extra pass as a rookie big. He is averaging over 3.4 apg in his first full season with the Clippers with his assist averages climbing each month.
4. There is no “D” in Amare.
As great of an offensive machine as Amare has been during his career, his defense has been equally atrocious. As noted here, Amare”s efficiency stats have been shockingly bad (with some of the worst +/- ratios during his years on the Suns) despite playing with Steve Nash. As noted, even in his most efficient year shooting the ball in 2008, his +/- ratio was a negative 2.23. Blake Griffin still suffers some of the efficiency problems that Amare faces, but his perimeter defense is generally good (helped by his incredibly quick feet) and he has shown the necessary tenacity down low to improve his low post defense over time.
5. All Blake Griffin does is win.
Above all else, Blake Griffin is a winner. High School. College. And dare we say it…maybe with the Clippers some day? He won 4 straight state titles with Oklahoma Christian School. He also took a mediocre 16-15 Oklahoma Sooners team and turned it around within 2 years to a 30-6 record with an Elite Eight appearance. His biggest challenge is now avoiding the Clipper Curse (which he didn’t do very well last year).
Amare is still looking for success at any level. In high school, he led his Cypress Creak team to an underwhelming 16-13 record. His NBA career has been mixed thus far, marked by injury and early playoff exits.Perhaps most importantly, Amare has yet to show the fire required to separate NBA elite from just all-stars.
In the final analysis, Blake Griffin is proving to perhaps be a once in a generation talent at the power forward. Shawn Kemp comparisons anyone?