They’re two of the best power forwards in the West, but their talents are as divergent as their personalities. Now we debate the games of the Los Angeles Clippers’
Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers. While we give arguments in favor of both, the reader ultimately decides who they think is better.
Griffin is gregarious and you’ve definitely seen him in the latest time traveling Kia spot. Aldridge has been launching jump shots and snagging boards in the sleepy Northwest since arriving in Portland by way of the University of Texas in the summer of 2006. But both are double-double threats every night they step on the hardwood, and both lead teams with talented point guards. Dime will argue each case, but in the end you make the final decision.
Ok, I’m going to take play from Rabbit in 8 Mile on this one, and tell you exactly what Griffin’s flaws are. (Now there’s a throwback).
Here is what I’m sure will be argued against Blake: he can’t shoot free throws, actually some would say he can’t shoot at all. He has no post game, and he plays defense about as well I do. His stats are a product of playing with Chris Paul. Anything else? All right let’s begin.
If this debate was based just off public persona, Blake wins hands down. He’s a funny, charismatic, and makes car commercials. I don’t know anything about Lamarcus Aldridge socially, so score one for Team Blake.
First off, if Griffin is indeed such a bad shooter, at least knows his limitations. Griffin’s career field goal percentage is 52.9 percent, where LaMarcus (who by the way, has never been a brick wall defensively either) stands at only 49.3 percent. And yes, Griffin is a subpar free throw shooter, but I admire the fact he’s spent hours working at it, and improved his percentage last year. Will he ever be compared to Steve Nash in that regard? No, but he’s now playable in the 4th quarter.
22.5 PPG, 12.1 RPG versus 19.4 PPG, 9.6 RPG. Now which are pre-Paul and which are with-Paul stats? That’s right, when Blake Griffin was joined by CP3, his stats actually went down, and guess what? His average is still better than Aldridge (who is the number one option in Portland)! At the age of 24, Griffin has already been named 2nd team All-NBA (which would put him in the top 10 players in the NBA, maybe a little high, but it shows his value), and LaMarcus has not.
My biggest issue when it comes to big men is rebounding. I am under the impression that if you are in the 6-10 to 7-3 range, you should be able to grab at the minimum eight boards a game. There are literally hundreds of players who have made a living off of a year or two of good rebounding (Reggie Evans, Jerome James, pretty much every tall, white center). So why is it that LMA manages to grab only 7.8 rebounds a game for his career when he plays nearly forty minutes a game?
If you were offered Aldridge for Griffin straight up would you take it? You probably would, if you’re the one getting Griffin. Right now, Griffin and Aldridge are close to statistic doppelgängers; what makes Griffin the better player is that he’s four years younger than Aldridge. I’m willing to admit LMA is the more polished post-up option. But, if last year is any indication of the future, he seems determined to morph into Dirk and spend most of his time shooting midrange jumpers. Griffin on the other hand is clearly the more athletic player (He jumped over a Kia!), and shows continued improvement to his game over his three healthy seasons.
Neither of them is going to be confused with Serge Ibaka or Dwight Howard defensively, but being they both play the majority of the game, there has to be something to Portland being 24th in [defensive] efficiency, while Griffin’s Clippers were 3rd. They have gone head-to-head eight times, during which Griffin averaged (19.1 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 4.9 APG and 2.0 SPG) and Aldridge put up (16.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.8 APG and 0.5 SPG). While Aldridge is clearly the supreme shooter, he doesn’t bring a lot else to the table. Griffin is one of the most athletic players in the NBA, something you cannot learn. His ceiling is higher, and once Doc Rivers spends some time with him, do we really want to bet against Blake developing even more? I don’t.