We argue. You decide.
The 2007 high school senior basketball class might have been the best ever. With players like Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo and Eric Gordon, the class was full of talent. Two of the premier players from that class are Blake Griffin and Kevin Love.
Back then, there was little debate over who was the better prospect. Love won the Gatorade and Naismith national Player of the Year awards, and although Griffin was an All-American, he usually found himself outside the national top-five rankings. But two years after graduation, Griffin was the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, and today, he is clearly a better player than Love. Griffin has more to offer.
The object of the game is to score more points than your opponent. There is no easier way to score than getting out on the break. Kevin Love does not contribute as much as Griffin in the transition game. Sure, Love is a great outlet passer, but Griffin gets out on the break faster than a stressed college student. This part of Griffin’s game allows him to create easier scoring opportunities than Love can. This is clear when you look at their field goal percentages: Griffin is making 53.1 percent of his shots as a rookie, while the third-year Love is hitting 42.8 percent from the field. Kevin’s lack of speed handicaps the Timberwolves in fast break points.
Another big attraction to Blake Griffin’s game is that he can fly. Nothing swings momentum more effectively than a monster throwdown. The excitement created by Griffin’s dunks can ignite huge runs for the Clippers. Griffin gets up on both ends. When a defense seems asleep, an electrifying block is similar to an espresso shot, as a block can wake up a defense. Griffin can erase a seemingly clear layup in the blink of an eye. Blake’s ability to soar above his opposition allows him to be a one-man game-changer. Love just doesn’t have this dimension to his game.
With Griffin’s elite agility, size, and quick feet, he is able to guard all positions on the floor. Clippers fans do not have to worry when Griffin has to switch on a screen and is forced to defend on the perimeter. He is mobile enough to hold his own against a lot of the wings around the League. We cannot say the same about Love.
When it comes down to it, they are two very good players to have on your roster. They can put up buckets and rebound better than most. Kevin Love is a special player with unique skills, but when you look at their games, Griffin brings more to the table than Love.
- CASEY MACK
Kevin Love is for real. Despite the concern over his limited minutes at the beginning of the season (primarily for defensive purposes), he has no doubt won the favor of coach Kurt Rambis with his play recently.
Case in point: Love’s unforgettable 31-point, 31-rebound performance against Amar’e Stoudemire and the Knicks in early-November. Love joined elite company that night, as 16 of the 18 NBA players who have recorded at least 30-and-30 in a game are currently in the Basketball Hall of Fame. The difference between them and Love is that he predicted it! In November alone, Love has had four 20-and-20 games, the first player to do that since Kevin Willis in 1991. Can Blake Griffin say that?
In their one head-to-head matchup as pros, Griffin edged out Love’s point and rebounding production — Griffin had 26 and 17, while Love had 24 and 14 — but Love trumped him in every other major category. He put up two more assists, two more steals, and one more block, not to mention shooting 63.6 percent from the field and 100 percent from the free-throw line to Griffin’s 54.5 and 40 percent shooting stats.
While both of them aren’t known for their defensive prowess, it seems as though Love has done the better job so far limiting his defensive assignments. In particular, Stoudemire exploded for 39 points against Griffin when the Knicks played the Clippers, while Love held Stoudemire to 14 points in their matchup.
We all know Blake is a highlight-reel dunker and an overall athletic anomaly, but what Love lacks in athleticism he makes up in basketball IQ, physicality, positioning, and being in the right place at the right time. That’s why he’s currently leading the League in rebounding (14.9 rpg), second in rebounding percentage (23.7), tied for second in double-doubles (13), and is averaging a not too shabby 18.6 points a night. Since his rookie year, Love has made significant improvements in almost every category and shows no sign of slowing down. It should also be noted that Love is one of the more formidable passing big men in the game, shoots a high percentage from the stripe, and has the ability to hit the three, all of which Griffin has yet to master.
Probably the most telling factor to a successful NBA career though is projected longevity. Love is a below-the-basket player with a low-risk set of moves, whereas Griffin’s high-flying acrobatics and above-the-rim play makes him more prone to hard and awkward falls that would inevitably result in serious injuries. While Love has had one significant hand injury on his career, Griffin has already lost an entire season to a major knee injury.
To put it briefly, Kevin Love plays the type of game that will allow him to be a solid contributor well into his 30s, while Griffin is destined to go the route of Antonio McDyess … if he’s lucky.
Who do you think is better?