Clippers forward Blake Griffin has been selected as a reserve to the Western Conference Team for the 2011 NBA All-Star Game by a vote of the league’s head coaches. Griffin will be the first rookie to appear in an NBA All-Star Game since Yao Ming in 2003.
Griffin, 21, is enjoying one of the most dominant rookie seasons in NBA history, averaging 23.0 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting 51.8 percent (422-814 FG) from the field. Griffin is the only player in the NBA to average at least 20 points, 12 boards and over three assists this season and ranks second in the league with 40 double-doubles. Griffin scored an NBA season-high 47 points on Jan. 17 and has been named the Western Conference T-Mobile Rookie Of The Month three straight times.
In response to the selection, Griffin said, “I’m really proud to be fortunate enough to have been chosen to the Western Conference All Star team and I’m looking forward to an exciting weekend later this month. I want to focus on these important games we have coming up. I do want to say, much love to my teammates. I share this honor with them. Thanks to the Western Conference coaches for giving me this opportunity. Most of all, thank you Clipper Nation for all of your support.”
Griffin is the 10th Clipper in franchise history to be selected to the All-Star Game and the fourth Clipper All-Star since 1993, joining Chris Kaman (2010), Elton Brand (2002, 2006) and Danny Manning (1993,1994).
During All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, Griffin is also scheduled to participate in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam on Friday, Feb. 18 along with Clippers teammate Eric Bledsoe and the Sprite Slam Dunk contest on Saturday, Feb. 19 at STAPLES Center.
The NBA All-Star Game will air live on TNT on Sunday, Feb. 20 at 5:00 p.m. PT from the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
Even though the Clips are currently 5-18 and are coming off a one-point loss to the Lakers last night, there are good things to focus on.
-Blake Griffin has 16 double-doubles in the season including 10 in a row (including last night). He has bumped his scoring average to over 20 per game, including a career-high 44 against the Knicks on Nov 20. He’s still in line for the Rookie of the Year Award and routinely has Sportcenter-type plays on a nightly basis – many of which are dunks – including this display against the Knicks.
-Eric Gordon has scored 20 or more points every game this season except one (19 points against Indiana) and has scored 24 in the three of the last four games. His season high is 32 points (against the Knicks) and 11 assists (in a loss against the Spurs on Nov 1.).
-Chris Kaman is the third-highest scorer on the team with over 10 ppg, but he’s only played in 10 games due to a sprained ankle.
The team is one of the youngest in the league and is dogged by injuries so far, which are hindering the veterans. Baron Davis is the most seasoned veteran (11 years experience), but he has been nursing a leg injury all year and has just returned recently. Kaman is a seven-year vet and also hampered by injuries. The rest of the starters or higher-minute players include Rasual Butler (8 years), Randy Foye (also previously injured), 4 years; Gordon (who missed time due to an injury) and Jordan (2 years each), Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledsoe and Griffin (rookies).
The Clippers start a three-game home stand tonight against the New York Knicks, whose fast-paced offensive style shouldn’t be that much of a problem for the young and athletic Clippers.
The most interesting points of the game should be the direct matchup between Blake Griffin and Amar’e Stoudamire in the paint, Knicks Mike D’Antoni’s fast similar and the return of Randy Foye for the Clippers. Foye’s 37% from three-point land should improve LA, which is statistically the worst three-point shooting league so far.
Tonight’s game is the first of three consecutive home games, followed by a quick trip to Phoenix, then home games with Utah (next Sunday) and San Antonio. LA currently has the worst record in the league at 1-12 and have lost eight games in a row. They are obviously looking to turn that around – starting tonight.
Davis may not go on the four-game road now because of a cyst behind his knee.
He missed his second consecutive game Wednesday in the Clippers first win of the season because of the injury and he most likely won’t be with the team on the road trip that starts tomorrow. The trip includes games at Denver, at Utah, at New Orleans and at San Antonio before the Clippers come home to play Detroit on the 12th.
Eric Bledsoe has started in Davis’s place in the last two games, scoring nine against San Antonio and contributing 17 points and eight assists in the win against Oklahoma City.
“We’re kind of just throwing him in there so I want to make sure I keep his confidence up, his aggressiveness up, so he can work through the mistakes as he goes through them,” Del Negro said of Bledsoe.
“It’s a growth period for him. It’s kind of a difficult situation for him a little bit, but it’s also a great situation and he’s handling it well. I expect him to play hard and get us into our sets when we need to, but obviously we’re not as versatile with what we could do in having a lot of young guys out there.”
Tomorrow night is the beginning of the Clippers season and the first home game – and first game overall – is against the Portland Trail Blazers. Tipoff is at 7:30 at Staples center.
The Clippers will start the season differently than last year, with Blake Griffin playing in the regular season. Last year, the 6’10″ former first overall pick in the draft was injured and out the entire year. While he was out, his position was at least partially occupied by Marcus Camby, who is now in Portland. Even though Griffin was a rookie last year, he was hurt all year and will still considered a rookie this season. Because of that, he is thought by many to be the leading candidate for the Rookie of the Year Award at season’s end.
The Clippers anticipated starting lineup is Griffin at power forward, Chris Kaman at center, Ryan Gomes at small forward, Eric Gordon at the #2 shooting guard position and Baron Davis at point guard with Rasual Butler, Eric Bledsoe, Randy Foye, Craig Smith and DeAndre Jordan as the second unit.
Jarron Collins – who played his prep ball at Harvard-Westlake in Studio City and won a state title with them – joins the Clippers after playing in Phoenix last year and Utah before.
Hopefully, the Clippers get off to a better start than the last two years, starting 0-4 last season and 0-6 in the previous one.