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How Dominating Can Blake Griffin Become?

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By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

The word “domination” doesn’t do justice to the level of damage Blake Griffin inflicted upon opposing teams this past season.  The National Player of the Year averaged 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds per game while shooting a ridiculous 65% from the field, most of those baskets coming on dunks, lay-ups, or putbacks since few defenders matched his combination of athleticism and strength underneath the basket.

Griffin is to double-doubles what Jay-z is to rhyming.  He recorded at least ten points and ten boards in 30 of his 35 games played, (and you can discount the game against Texas when Griffin suffered a concussion and only played 11 minutes).  His double doubles had authority too: Griffin grabbed 15 or more rebounds eighteen times and surpassed the twenty mark five times.  He was a double digit scorer in every contest, minus the aforementioned Texas game, and posted twenty or more points 21 times.

His unique physical attributes propelled his success at the collegiate level.  Griffin measured in at 6’10”, 248 pounds at the NBA Draft combine.  He’s built like a truck with shoulders wider than the gap between Paris Hilton’s ears, but he also possesses the athletic ability and explosiveness of the league’s top wing players.  Those attributes are why he often draws comparisons to Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire with a hint of Carlos Boozer mixed in.

I caught up to Griffin at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago and when I asked Griffin who he models his game on, Amare was actually the first name to come up.  “I really like how Amare Stoudemire came into the league and I feel like we were in the same position. He really liked to use his athleticism and dunk all the time and slowly he developed his jump shot. So hopefully, I can be in that category,” the future #1 overall pick said. Later, he would mention that Shaq was one of his favorites to watch, but also said he doesn’t see himself emulating Shaquille’s game.

Interesting that he mentioned his jump shot as his weakness because if there is any flaw to Griffin’s game, it’s shooting.  Due to his dominance in the paint at Oklahoma, Griffin rarely had to step out and show off his limited jumper.  Building consistency with his mid-range game will be an area the former Sooner must improve upon to become an All-Star caliber player at the next level.  “A lot of people think all I do is dunk, all I do is make lay-ups, so hopefully I can show them that I’m more versatile than that, that I can score a little from outside that I can dribble a little bit and that I’m not a one-dimensional player,” the future Clipper said.clippers

Like Magic center Dwight Howard, Griffin also struggles at the free throw line which is a concern since he is so physical and draws a lot of fouls.  He shot just 59% from the charity stripe during his two years in Norman and will have to put extra time in so that he can capitalize on the numerous free throw line trips he’ll inevitably make during his career.

After the interview sessions I saw both Griffin and Los Angeles Clippers General Manager/Head Coach Mike Dunleavy hanging out in the bar/restaurant downstairs. So what does Griffin think about Dunleavy saying he’s definitely going to draft Griffin first overall? “As possibly one of my next coaches, I believe him, but anything can happen, and that’s how I’m looking at it,” Griffin said.

The Economics of Basketball

By Brandon Robinson
With the current recession, it is going to be difficult for a lot of Americans—even for those working with NBA basketball. At least as far as making money they were accustomed to making a few years ago.

Additionally, the biggest effect will be on team revenue. “If you think about it, it’s one big cycle. The recession affects the fans, who will spend less money on tickets and merchandise. So the league will force the players to accept less as the pie shrinks,” says ESPN.com Senior Writer, JA Adande.

 Revenue from ticket sales and sponsorship will be down next season. Player payroll is based on a percentage of team revenue. This means the salary cap will go down, which means players that are not already under contract will have a difficult time getting the kind of deals they’ve gotten in the past.

Team owners are finding ways to cut costs in a shrinking economy.

“It already had an effect this season. Teams are anticipating lower revenue and were reluctant to take on expensive contracts at the trade deadline,” says Chris Carrino, Executive Director of Broadcasting for the New Jersey Nets.

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Currently, the hoopla surrounding the summer of 2010 has been hyped as the year in which marketable a-list of superstars will become unrestricted free agents. This means that NBA squads can sign them to max long term deals without that price being matched by their current team or other teams. During that summer, it is believed that Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, will bolt and sign with either the New York Knicks or across the Hudson with the New Jersey Nets. That summer has been dubbed by some as the “Summer of LeBron.” It will be very interesting to see what teams decide to do as the economy crumbles. Will people spend money?

Among that elite list of free agents: Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, Toronto Raptors’ Chris Bosh, Phoenix Suns’ Amare Stoudemire, Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, New Orleans Hornets’ Tyson Chandler, San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili, Milwaukee Bucks’ Richard Jefferson, Atlanta Hawks’ Joe Johnson, Houston Rockets’ Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash, Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Michael Redd.

“This will come into play in the next collective bargaining agreement, which will certainly feature shorter contract lengths and average and maximum salaries. It will become more difficult for teams to afford multiple stars, or to fit them into a smaller salary cap. So if the teams are worse, the fans won’t want to come to the arena to watch them, and it starts all over again,” added JA Adande.

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A lot has happened since the current NBA collective bargain agreement, was signed during the lockout shortened 1998-99 NBA season. Players have made a lot of money. The current collective bargaining agreement ends the summer of 2011 and owners want to make strict changes. According to the Indianapolis Star-News, the Indiana Pacers have lost money nine of the past 10 years. The Sacramento Bee reported that the Sacramento Kings are expected to lose up to $25 million this season. The Sports Business Journal reported that the Orlando Magic are expecting potential losses of between $15 million and $20 million. Charlotte Bobcats owner Robert Johnson has claimed losses of $50 million since he paid $300 million for the expansion franchise in 2003.

Clearly the owners and NBA commissioner David Stern want to lower the salary cap and with good reason. The NBA salary cap went down only once in 2002. It went from $42.5 million to $42.7 because they overestimated it. That was with no economic trouble.

“I think the game will be fine, but just like every industry it’s going to take some hits” says ESPN the Magazine’s senior writer, Chris Broussard.

“The superstars are still going to get paid: Kobe, LeBron, Wade, and Dwight Howard are still going to get their money,” added Broussard. So who will take the biggest hit? “It’s always going to hurt the midlevel players, the midlevel salary will definitely drop” says Broussard.

What do players think about this? “Of course the current economic climate will affect the lengths of contracts and the amount of money people will make. Teams are tightening their spending since they are not making money the way they were before,” says Utah Jazz guard Brevin Knight.

One thing is clear, despite the economic woes fans will still need an outlet to get their minds off this economic crisis. They need something to cheer for.

”The game still is very popular. You have great young stars and rivalries in the Celtics and the Lakers. LeBron and Kobe have somewhat of a rivalry in regards to who is the best player,” added Broussard.
Something tells me, everything will be fine.