Michael Vick is a unique football player. He has the ability to score from anywhere on the field with his legs or with his arm. Love him or hate him because of his off-field stuff, everyone agrees he’s one of the most exciting players ever to step foot on the football field. He dazzles crowds by taking off from the line of scrimmage and going on electrifying runs. There is an aura around Vick’s style that makes people like him.
That being said, Vick has never won a Super Bowl and only has two playoff wins in a decade. He may be the most exciting player in the league, but there is no value in being entertaining in pro sports.
On Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, Griffin posterized Pau Gasol in what may be the dunk of the year. In fact, if we were to compile a highlight reel of all the best dunks of the season, Griffin would infiltrate the reel to another level.
He makes the SportsCenter top-10 plays almost every night, but here is news for you: Those thunderous slams aren’t going to translate into playoff success.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum said it best following Wednesday night’s game when he was asked about Griffin’s dunk: “He can have the highlight, we’ll take the W.”
It’s too early to tell whether Griffin’s career will parallel Vick’s and become a highlight reel of amazing plays rather than glorious wins. He certainly has the team this year to go deep into the playoffs, but exactly how valuable is he to his team?
There is no doubt Chris Paul is the leader of the Clippers. Without him, the team would resemble the Clippers of old.
That being said, the team would have difficulty winning without Griffin, as well. He’s not just a dunker like Shannon Brown—he averages 20 points and 11 rebounds per game and has a Player Efficiency Rating of 23.10, good enough for 11th best in the league.
There is value to Griffin, the same way there is value to Michael Vick. However, both players are overrated in a similar way. As fans, we love Griffin’s high-flying dunks and Vick’s breathtaking runs, but we are overstating their value because of their explosiveness.
At the end of the day, I want a solid power forward like Tim Duncan in his prime or Pau Gasol on my team in the NBA Finals. They’re not going to bring the house down with one single play, but they’re going to play great basketball on both ends of the floor.
What’s paradoxical here is that Griffin does play solid ball. The numbers say he does.
That said, Paul Millsap of the Utah Jazz also has a high PER and he’s not going to single-handedly lead anyone to a championship in his career.
In other words, the Clippers can most likely win without Griffin. His presence last year only improved the Clippers’ record by three games. They won 32 games last season after winning 29 in 2009-10. There is no doubt Griffin has improved in all facets of the game in his second season in the league, but Chris Paul runs this team more than anyone else. The team will be a sinking ship without him.
In fact, one can say that their season is already a lost cause without their veteran leader, Chauncey Billups. The Clippers are 17-15 without Billups in the lineup and they’ve lost the Pacific Division lead while he’s been out. With him, they were 15-7.
Billups flies under the radar, unlike Griffin. He averaged 15 points per game while he was playing this year. Yes, that’s right. You were surprised when you read that, weren’t you?
The point is that it feels like Griffin’s unique skill set has made us fans put him on a pedestal and overrate him just a little bit. He’s still an outstanding talent, but, like Michael Vick, don’t expect this guy to have much playoff success.
He’s more flash than glory.
And if he does win it’s going to be mostly because of CP3 and Chauncey Billups. They are the catalysts of the team.
That being mentioned, no one knows what can happen in the future. Griffin can develop his game to a point where he doesn’t have to rely on slashing and dunking almost every time. He still has room for improvement. But until then, he has more slam dunk titles than playoff appearances, which, in the grand scheme of things, is absolutely meaningless.
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