Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin was officially named the NBA Rookie of the Year Wednesday afternoon in Playa Vista, Calif., finally putting to rest a decision that, I don’t know, everyone knew was going to happen since early November.
With the award now in hand, Griffin becomes the NBA’s first unanimous Rookie of the Year since David Robinson was crowned ROY in 1990. He also collected all possible first-place votes, with rooks John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins respectively following suit behind. In a very crowded gym at the Clips’ practice facility this afternoon, Griffin talked about his progression in his first season as a pro.
“I think I improved from the beginning of the year until now,” said Griffin, “but at the same time, I have so much work to do and I have so much ground to make up.
“I know (that) where I want to be as a player is nowhere near where I’m at today. I have a lot of work to do and that’s one of the things that’s exciting. You know, sitting around watching all of these playoff games, it makes me that much hungrier. I can’t wait to get (back) to work and I can’t wait for next season.”
On the season, the 6-10 monster of a 22-year-old averaged 22.5 points and 12.1 boards a game for the 32-50 Clippers. In L.A., Blake is surrounded by a young core with a hell of a lot of potential. Eric Gordon is just now coming into his own as an elite scorer, Eric Bledsoe’s shown flashes and locking up beast-in-the-making DeAndre Jordan (who’s a restricted free agent this summer) will be a top priority. But Griffin unquestionably leads the show.
“His talent speaks for itself,” said Coach Vinny Del Negro at the podium Wednesday. “The exciting part for me as a coach is Blake’s character and his work ethic. We all can see his physical talent that (GM) Neil (Olshey) talked about, but more important to me is his ability to be a leader of the team. His work ethic, like I said, is second to none. He will only improve with time. People sometimes forget it was his first year in the League.
“I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg for him.”
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