Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Those names, among others, are some you think about when considering who will win MVP this year. LeBron could be picked as MVP every year and I wouldn’t argue. Westbrook is the reigning MVP, so of course he’s in the conversation. Giannis is a rising superstar who’s greatly improved every year of his career, and he’s still only 22! These guys are getting all the attention in the MVP race, but there may be someone who can earn the award without all of the attention. That someone is Blake Griffin.
Blake Griffin is not a popular choice to win MVP. How can he be with all of these other great players out there? He may not be a popular choice for the award, but that doesn’t mean he can’t compete for it. Before you think I’m crazy for suggesting this could even happen, hear me out.
Comparing Griffin’s Situation to Westbrook’s
Remember when Kevin Durant decided to leave the Thunder? He left Russell Westbrook as the lone star for OKC. Westbrook wasn’t left with much help, leaving a heavy burden on his shoulders. The bright side of this situation for Westbrook, is that he got to show us what he could do with HIS team. It was no longer partially Durant’s team.
Russell Westbrook took on the challenge of having his own team, greatly exceeding expectations. His team didn’t come close to winning a championship, but that was always too much to ask with who he had around him. He did everything he could, mostly because he had to do everything. Westbrook went on to win the MVP award, and deservedly so. Without Westbrook and his incredible triple-double record, the Thunder would have been nothing last year.
Similar to Westbrook when he played with Durant, Griffin had been playing with Chris Paul for years. Griffin improved his game year after year, but I don’t think the Clippers were ever considered his team. If you asked almost anyone who was more important to the Clippers success, would they have said Chris Paul or Blake Griffin? I know I would have said Chris Paul.
This offseason, Chris Paul moved on to the Houston Rockets. He left Blake Griffin as the star to carry the burden of the team, just like Westbrook was left with the burden of his. Blake Griffin does have DeAndre Jordan, who is a star defensively, but offense is not his strength. The most points he’s ever averaged in a season is 12.7. That leaves the offensive burden to Griffin.
While I am comparing the current situation of Blake Griffin to that of Russell Westbrook last year, in no way am I saying that Blake Griffin is going to average a triple-double. He won’t even come close to that. What I am saying, is that Blake Griffin will have to take on a much bigger load with Chris Paul gone. Griffin’s numbers will increase because he’ll have the ball more. He’ll be asked to do more.
As the focal point of this team, if Griffin can show he can be a leader and take his team to the playoffs, he’ll get a lot more MVP recognition than he’s currently getting. We’ve only seen one game from Griffin and the Clippers this season (will play second game tonight), but in that game, Griffin put up a stat line of 29 points, 52.2% shooting, 50% 3pt shooting, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. With the ball in his hands more often this season, I don’t see why that stat line isn’t achievable on a nightly basis.
He’s Almost Achieved MVP Before
I don’t think most of us realize that Blake Griffin was voted 3rd in the MVP race in the 2013-14 season. In that season, Griffin put up a stat line of 24.1 points, 52.8% shooting, 27.3% 3pt shooting, 9.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.6 blocks. This was in a season when he wasn’t asked to do as much for his team. His stat line from the first game of this season is significantly better than what he put up in the 13-14 season. If he can keep that up, his numbers will be MVP worthy.
Griffin received a total of 434 points in the MVP voting that season, which may not seem like a lot when considering the second and first place players received 891 and 1232 points. Do you know who those two players were? LeBron James and Kevin Durant (MVP). Coming in third to LeBron and Durant as the most valuable player to your team is nothing to be ashamed of. That’s actually incredible! He had probably the two best players in the league ahead of him, and he still received 434 points for MVP.
He Must Stay Healthy to Have a Chance
The potential is there for Griffin, it really is. Probably the biggest thing standing in his way is health. Griffin’s injury history is something that can’t be ignored. He didn’t play a game in what should have been his rookie season. Since then, he’s had four seasons where he’s played 67 games or less, which includes the last three seasons. He’s had three seasons where he’s played 80 games or more, and one of those 80 game seasons is when he came 3rd in the MVP race.
Griffin must stay healthy to not only win MVP, but for this Clippers team to have a chance to compete. Without Griffin, I fear this team will struggle. Again, it’s only been one game, but Griffin looks ready to take his game to the next level. Much like OKC with Westbrook last year, the Clippers chances of being a true championship contender are minimal. While that is probably the case, it still gives Griffin the ability to show us all what he can really be as a leader and player. Watch out for Griffin this year. He’s about to show us what HIS Clippers team can do.