Clippers take first official look at Griffin
Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Blake Griffin showed off the high-flying dunks that helped him become college player of the year in a very public pre-draft workout Saturday for the Los Angeles Clippers.
But that wasn’t what most impressed coach Mike Dunleavy.
Griffin’s handling three basketballs as part of a dribbling drill, his final trick before finishing the hour-long session, was what got the attention of his possible future boss.
“The last part was something you probably don’t see too often from a 6-10 guy, doing two ball and three ball ballhandling drills. I thought we’d save that part for last,” Dunleavy said.
Well, it was Griffin’s idea.
“I don’t think he believed me at first, but I hope he does now,” said Griffin.
The Clippers, winners of the top pick in the draft lottery, are hoping Griffin can help change the team’s fortunes. Whether that happens by selecting the Oklahoma star or using him as trade bait will be unveiled on draft day.
Regardless, they entertained Griffin – and over 100 season ticket holders and media members – at their training facility to drum up interest in their top pick.
“It’s unusual for us to open up a workout for a player, but in this case we thought it was appropriate,” Dunleavy said.
“We wanted the fans and sponsors to see the potential player we might take so we thought that was important.”
Los Angeles previously announced Griffin would be their top selection. But Dunleavy wouldn’t solidify that sentiment again, only throwing out hints on what an addition like Griffin would mean to any team that acquired him.
“You can never say never about anything, obviously. Obviously if the word LeBron was spoken by anybody, somebody’s door would open, clearly. There are a few guys in this league that wouldn’t get moved. Most of the times that you’re in the case of a pick like this, 99.9 percent of the time you keep it.”
An up close look at Griffin – who averaged a double-double in his sophomore season at Oklahoma – gave Dunleavy a better idea of what the Clippers could expect.
“He’s a tremendous talent and an even better kid. He’s got major hops, he’s got big hands, he finishes and he’s strong. He was just terrific,” said Dunleavy, who saw Griffin for the first time in person.
Well, not so terrific during the workout. Griffin was locked in with his hops and dunks, but missed a bunch of mid-range jumpers.
“It’s been better. Today wasn’t great,” said Griffin. “The thing about me is that I don’t have to rely on my jumper but it is something I have been working on. Later on, everybody will see that it’s a little better than today.”
The workout wouldn’t sway Dunleavy, though.
“The things that you can’t see on a 1-on-0 workout are the things he does best, the way he competes. His physical competitiveness is the thing that is so special about him,” said Dunleavy.
And his character. Dunleavy said he got a chance to connect with Griffin while out to dinner at Mastros, a top notch steakhouse, in Beverly Hills.
Griffin ate salmon – he stays away from red meat – and asked Dunleavy questions about how he would fit in best with the organization.
“I asked him how he could use me or how he wanted to use me and he said later on down the road we’ll figure out where I’m most comfortable,” said Griffin.
Dunleavy sees the power forward’s potential as flexible and sees him being able to fit in anywhere on the front line.
Griffin doesn’t mind, but certainly likes dunking.
“Watching Shaq pull down the basket was always my goal so I got my nerf hoop and tore that down a lot in preparation for this,” he said.