Saturday, September 24, 2011

The NBA's Top Five Up-and-Coming Duos #1: Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon

Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon might only be the second-best sg/pf combo in the City of Angels, but they're quickly turning Clipper Land into a passable purgatory.

Building around Griffin and Gordon, and Los Angeles Clippers are hoping to eschew from the shadows of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and the Los Angeles Lakers this decade.  Although accomplishing the task won't be as effortless as sitting down and watching an awesome Blake Griffin video (that video intro wrote itself), probability is on their side after all these years of futility.

Eric Gordon, left, and Blake Griffin are the future of the Clippers. 
Griffin's dominance was felt immediately during a historic rookie year filled with power dunks and demonstrative rebounds. He averaged 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, and an especially impressive 3.8 assists per game while shooting over 50 percent from the field and drawing tons of fouls with a surprisingly effective back-to-the-basket low-post game.  He cost himself points by missing free throws (64.2 percent made), but he's got a fervent desire to improve.  Karl Malone, a legendary gym rat and self-improver, shot under 60 percent from the free throw line in his first two seasons and finished a career 74.2 percent free throw shooter.

Gordon has arrived with a bit more subtly than his teammate, but going forward, he'll be just as important to L.A.  When EG played last season, the Clippers were 25-31; without him, they were 7-19.  The efficient 22 ppg scorer can shoot the 3-ball (36.4 percent), which spreads the floor for Griffin.  Not content with hanging around the perimeter, he was also adept at taking the ball to the basket and getting to the line.  An underrated ball-handler and playmaker, he averaged 4.4 dimes per game last year as well.  He can play off or on the ball.   

Griffin and Gordon project to be a duo capable of handling the offensive duties of a Western contender.  Currently, Gordon plays solid defense; Griffin plays rookie-game defense, though he's tough on the defensive glass.  Both should morph into solid defensive pieces, and if DeAndre Jordan works on his defense and becomes an interior suppressor, L.A. could have a solid defensive core as well.

The 2012 season- if it ever gets off the ground- could very well be the coming-out party for Griffin and Gordon as leaders of a playoff team.  The two ascending clippers- the dynamic duo of L.A.'s Clippers- the best young pair in the NBA.

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