Blake Griffin – So, we’re not supposed to be talking about Blake in here. But, it’s like he heard we had put a moratorium on discussing his rookie season here in this column and he decided to go out and give us no choice but to talk about his awesomeness. He’s been brilliant — holy hell has Blake Grffin been beasting his way to the Rookie of the Year award. Into the record books, too.
After exploding for a career-high 47 points to go with 14 rebounds in a win against the Indiana Pacers, it’s time we caught up with Mr. Griffin. My goodness — those 47 points on 19-for-24 field goals. The guy almost scores 50 points and misses just five shots in the entire game. Not to mention, all of those points came with only one dunk. Shot 82 percent from the line in that one, too. Wow.
A game prior, against the Lakers, Griffin’s streak of 14 straight games with 20 points and 10 rebounds was snapped as he finished with “just” 18 points and 15 rebounds. The most important thing in all of this is that Griffin has his team winning. Yes, the Clippers, they are winning. Nabbing victories against the Lakers, Nuggets and Heat, the Clippers have won seven of their last 10 games. Griffin is now averaging 22.5 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
Greg Monroe – Monroe has been quietly putting together one of the strongest starts to the calender year of any rookie not named Blake. While his season averages are still low at 6.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, Monroe is averaging 11.8 points and nine rebounds per game over the eight games the Pistons have played in January. He’s shooting nearly 55 percent from the floor while averaging an impressive 2.3 steals over his last eight games. For a guy who started his rookie campaign with two DNP-CDs, Monroe has come a long way and the 20-year-old is looking pretty savvy out there among the vets.
Wes Johnson – Wes has been having a bit of a rough go of it here in January. While he had a couple of 20-point performances in December, on Monday night he received the first DNP-CD of his NBA career. Ouch.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the benching came against the Blazers after Wesley Matthews went off for 36 points against the Wolves a week ago, many coming with Johnson guarding him. After starting all but the first four games of the season for Minnesota, Johnson was pulled from the starting lineup in three of his last five games, including the DNP-CD. On the season he is averaging 8.9 points, but just 2.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest. Maybe the fourth pick in the NBA is getting winded and hitting a bit of the rookie wall. Regardless, don’t expect any excuses from Johnson, but do expect him to ramp up his intensity in practice to get himself back on track.
Minnesota @ LA Clippers: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET – This evening, the Clippers play host to the Timberwolves as they look for their third straight win and their sixth straight at home. Of course, the main reason to watch this one is to see how Blake Griffin follows up Monday’s 47-point performance. Another double-double? Another game with seven assists? Either way, Blake makes the Clippers must-see TV and that’s saying a lot.
Additionally, Eric Bledsoe is always fun to watch, especially when he decides to attack the hoop, so add that to your list. And one more reason to tune in: to see if Wes Johnson can shake off the past week and get himself back on track. Same goes for Al-Farouq Aminu, whose last two games have been ones to forget.