As the L.A. Lakers and Orlando Magic get ready to decide the NBA Championship later this week, there are 28 other teams whose primary concern right now is this month’s NBA Draft. And while Kobe and Dwight are the marquee superstars of the moment, the League’s immediate future revolves around Blake Griffin, the inevitable No. 1 overall pick in the draft and the cover athlete of Dime #49 — our NBA Draft Preview issue — which hits newsstands this week across the country.
Whether or not you agree with the majority opinion that this year’s draft class is weak (we’ve come to realize that it’s pointless to judge a draft class until at least their second year in the League), everybody is convinced that the one standout player in the field, the one expected to make the biggest impact right away and become a future superstar, is Griffin. The 20-year-old University of Oklahoma product dominated the Big XII in his two-year run, even outshining the accomplishments of his predecessor, Michael Beasley, who just a year ago was being hailed as arguably the most dominant player the conference had ever seen.
Now that the L.A. Clippers hold the top pick, the only question is whether they’re going to ride with Blake or be swayed by a Godfather offer from another team who covets him. Either way, Blake will definitely be the first man striding across the stage at Madison Square Garden and shaking David Stern‘s hand.
Just a few days after Blake announced he was going pro, we went to Norman, Okla., to shoot him for the cover. While you can probably imagine the kind of determination and work ethic Blake possesses, Andrew Katz’s cover story also uncovers a young man who is more quirky and interesting than you would know just by witnessing his stone-faced, Robocop demeanor on the court.
Griffin is the centerpiece of our NBA Draft Preview, where we explore the top story lines of ths year’s event and feature some of the most interesting players. Who will be the “other” future superstar after Griffin? Whose games will remind you of current NBA All-Stars? Who are the top sleepers? Why does your team need a point guard this year? And just how good exactly is Tyler Hansbrough?
Also in this issue, Austin Burton pens a feature story on Chauncey Billups; Aron Phillips introduces you to Perry Ellis, the best high school freshman in the country and a kid already building up talk as the top pick of the 2013 Draft; and Thaddeus Young stars in our regular Dime Fashion spread. We’ve also got stuff with Rajon Rondo, Joe Johnson, Ben Gordon and Kenny Anderson; we take you inside the hottest sneaker spot in Italy; and perhaps the NBA’s most tatted-up player shows off his body art.
Look for Dime #49 on newsstands nationwide this week, and remember, we’ll be dropping the digital version a few weeks from now.