Friday, September 17, 2010
Blake Griffin Is Ready To Go
I went to the Clippers practice facility earlier this week to do a 1-on-1 interview with Blake Griffin--a.k.a the #1 question mark going into the Clippers upcoming season.
Griffin's road to recovery from mid-season knee surgery has been pretty much right on-course since he woke up from the anesthesia. He's been running for months. He took part in the team's Summer League practices, although he did not play in any of the games. Basically, everything pointed to him being 100% in time for the start of training camp at the end of this month.
Well, I have news for you after witnessing some pickup games the other day. If Blake Griffin is not 100% recovered from that knee injury right now, then I don't know what 100% looks like.
Not only was he running with a limp or a brace, but the explosion we all witnessed during his two years at Oklahoma and in those handful of preseason games last year seems to be the same as it was before the surgery. I didn't see all of the pickup games, but he had at least 4 rim-shattering dunks while I was there, including one that started as face-up post on DeAndre Jordan and ended with a face-at-rim-level, one-handed punch. DeAndre may still be looking for Blake after getting shook with that spin move.
During my interview with Griffin after the pickup games, we discussed a number of topics relative to him personally and the team as a whole. You can watch parts of that interview in the video section on foxsportswest.com.
One of the subjects I was most interested in was what Griffin thought of his new head coach. He told me that he actually knew more about Vinny Del Negro as a player rather than a coach--makes sense considering Del Negro played 12 NBA seasons while coaching for only two years in Chicago.
Griffin said that three early impressions of Del Negro stand out to him before training camp has even started. 1) He puts a high priority on player development. 2) He wants the team to get out and run. 3) He doesn't "over coach" (in other words, Del Negro may be the complete opposite of Mike Dunleavy).
So with Griffin fully healthy and Del Negro making quite the first impression on the franchise player, everything points towards a good start to training camp--something the team hasn't had since 2005 (Sam Cassell's first year with the team). However, even with that being said, the Clippers still have several other question marks to answer as training camp and the season progress, including but not limited to, 1) How will Baron Davis fit in with the new coach and system? 2) How did the Team USA experience affect Eric Gordon? 3) Can Chris Kaman back up his All-Star season with another one?
We should start to find out some of those answers when training camp opens September 28th.