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Who Needs Blake Griffin?

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 5:53 pm •  Published: April 7, 2009

 

Now that Blake Griffin has declared for the NBA Draft, the next 1 1/2 months leading up to the May 19 Draft Lottery will be spent speculating where the Oklahoma forward and Player of the Year could end up. As of today, the Sacramento Kings have the best chance to land the No. 1 overall pick and select Griffin, this year’s consensus top pick.

Here’s my breakdown of how Griffin would fit on the 14 current lottery teams and why I think the Washington Wizards are the best fit for Griffin, the Memphis Grizzlies are the worst and the Minnesota Timberwolves don’t need him.

14. Phoenix Suns, 42-35
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 0.5 percent.
How Blake would fit: The Suns have a near clone in power forward Amare Stoudemire. But trade rumors have surrounded Stoudemire and center Shaquille O’Neal all season. If the Suns were to trade Stoudemire or O’Neal this summer, Griffin could become Phoenix’s cornerstone for the future. Griffin is not as talented as Stoudemire offensively, but he’s already a better rebounder and is expected to blossom into a more consistent low-post defender.

13. Charlotte Bobcats, 34-43
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 0.6 percent.
How Blake would fit: Emeka Okafor is more comfortable at power forward but has regularly played at center and can be moved there full-time if Griffin comes aboard. Alongside Okafor, the Bobcats would have one of the best low-post tandems in the league. But the presence of point guards Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin could help Griffin become an immediate impact on the offensive end as well.
 
12. Indiana Pacers, 33-44
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 0.7 percent.
How Blake would fit: The Pacers are one of the faster paced teams in the league, averaging 104.4 points, and Griffin’s athleticism would be a natural fit filling the lane with speedy point guards T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack. And with Danny Granger as the focal point of the Pacers’ offense, Indiana wouldn’t need to ask too much of Griffin offensively right off the bat.

11. New Jersey Nets, 32-45
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 0.8 percent.
How Blake would fit: Griffin would easily become the most dominant big man in New Jersey since Derrick Coleman. He’d instantly become a nice complement to rookie center Brook Lopez, who is the only Nets player who is averaging more than 5.4 rebounds. New Jersey has a promising young power forward in Yi Jianlian, but he’s more perimeter-oriented and doesn’t add near the toughness Griffin possesses.

10. Milwaukee Bucks, 32-46
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 1.1 percent.
How Blake would fit: Scott Skiles, one of the league’s most defensive-minded coaches, would love to get his hands on Griffin’s appetite for hard work and hustle. The Bucks have ample offense in wingmen Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson. And the addition of Griffin could allow Milwaukee to let restricted free agent Charlie Villanueva walk this summer, opening up a starting spot for Griffin alongside center Andrew Bogut.

9. Toronto Raptors, 30-46
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 1.7 percent.
How Blake would fit: The Raptors are at a crossroads and could soon lose franchise forward Chris Bosh and free-agent-to-be Shawn Marion. But Griffin could ease the sting of their potential departures and become the face of the Raptors’ franchise. Toronto has some nice young talent that Griffin would be surrounded by in point guard Jose Calderon and forward Andrea Bargnani, and Griffin’s low-post skills would make the Raptors 3-point shooters even more of a threat.

8. New York Knicks, 30-47
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 2.8 percent.
How Blake would fit: David Lee is the Knicks only low-post scorer, which puts a great deal of pressure on New York’s guard play. But if he lands in coach Mike D’Antoni’s lap, it’s not far-fetched to think Griffin could put up stats similar to the 20 points and 10 rebounds Amare Stoudemire regularly posts in Phoenix. The only cause for concern here is Griffin has yet to develop his mid-range to perimeter shooting, a must in D’Antoni’s run-and-gun system.

7. Golden State Warriors, 28-49
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 4.3 percent.
How Blake would fit: There is no helping the Warriors’ defensive deficiencies (league-worst 112.5 point per game), but Griffin would step right in and become Golden State’s most talented big man. Griffin’s athleticism would lead to easy scoring opportunities in transition, and his rebounding could be a nice addition alongside center Andris Biedrins, whose 11.5-rebound average does little to put a dent into the Warriors’ porous rebounding differential (minus-4.88 per game).

6. Memphis Grizzlies, 22-54
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 6.3 percent.
How Blake would fit: While playing in front of only an announced 12,662 fans a night would be the worst situation imaginable, Griffin could instantly turn Memphis’ young core into arguably the best in the league. A starting five of Mike Conley (21), O.J. Mayo (21), Rudy Gay (22), Griffin (20) and Marc Gasol (24) would give Memphis a nice mix of athleticism, size and skill at each position, possibly creating match-up problems for years to come if kept intact.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves, 22-55
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 8.8 percent.
How Blake would fit: Al Jefferson is the face of the franchise, and the Wolves just traded O.J. Mayo to Memphis during last year’s draft in exchange for forward Kevin Love. Together, Jefferson and Love seemingly serve as Minnesota’s frontcourt of the future, leaving the Wolves without a pressing need for Griffin. Still, the Wolves would be crazy not to take Griffin, but what they do from there is where it gets dicey. Love could move to the bench. But it’s not far-fetched to think Griffin could come off the bench and be brought along slowly, similar to how Miami is handling last year’s No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder, 21-55
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 11.9 percent.
How Blake would fit: No lottery team needs a low-post scorer as much as the Thunder. Nenad Krstic is a pick-and-pop shooter. Nick Collison is primarily a rebounder. And Robert Swift is likely on his way out of town. Griffin isn’t the answer to the Thunder’s interior defense woes. His ability to score from the painted area, however, would take loads of pressure off Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook and give what is a jump-shooting Thunder team a reliable scoring option when jump shots aren’t falling.

3. Los Angeles Clippers, 18-59
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 15.6 percent.
How Blake would fit: With Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby, Zach Randolph and rookie DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers have the most talented frontcourt of any lottery team. But Kaman’s injury-prone, Camby’s aging, Randolph’s a head case and Jordan is a project. The Clippers have done a good job of acquiring young talent, however, and Griffin would join rookie guard Eric Gordon and second-year forward Al Thornton as building blocks.

2. Washington Wizards, 18-60
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 19.9 percent.
How Blake would fit: This could be the best situation for Griffin. The Wizards, when healthy, have an All-Star caliber trio in Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. Griffin could fit nicely at power forward alongside an underrated center in Brendan Haywood and could add more interior toughness and defense to a team that is notorious for being soft.

1. Sacramento Kings, 16-60
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 25 percent.
How Blake would fit: Considering Sacramento is the worst rebounding team in the league (minus-5.09 differential) and is second-to-last in opponent scoring (109.4 points per game), you could make the argument that no team needs Griffin’s talents more than the Kings. Sacramento has two quality young big men in power forward Jason Thompson (22) and center Spencer Hawes (20), but neither rebounds nor scores from the post nearly as well Griffin.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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