Kevin Durant praises Blake Griffin
They both transformed their teams. They both put up monster numbers in their NBA debuts. And they both won the rookie of the year award.
But what would have happened if Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant had entered the league at the same time? Who would have been most deserving of the honor?
Durant says that's a no-brainer. "[Griffin] would have been rookie of the year."
Said Griffin: "I dont know about that. We were kind of in two different positions as rookies. We both did come in and we got to play a lot of minutes. You know, it's hard to say."
After being selected as the top draft pick by the Clippers in 2009, Griffin averaged 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds in his rookie debut last season. (He suffered a broken left knee cap during the final preseason game in 2009 that kept him sidelined that year.) Durant, who was selected second by the Seattle Supersonics in 2007, averaged 20.3 points and 4.4 rebounds.
"I'm just fortunate enough that I didn't play the same rookie year as he did," Durant said. But it feels good to say I was rookie of the year and be in the same class as a great player like Blake."
Trying to choose which one of Griffin's dunks last season was the most spectacular is like asking a parent to choose a favorite child -- for most people, it's an awfully difficult prospect.
So we threw the question at Griffin.
Even he stumbled a bit.
Griffin talked about how there was a nine-game home stretch last season during which the Clippers were undefeated. When prodded a bit more, he mentioned the game against the Indiana Pacers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in which he scored a career-high 47 points, shot 19 for 24 from the field and nine for 11 from the free-throw line. (He had only one dunk that game.)
After winning, 114-107, he told The Times' Lisa Dillman, "As a kid, you always dream of having big games like you see guys do all the time. I watched guys like Michael Jordan. I don't know how many 40-point games he had. You think about it and you dream about it.
"But it doesn't really hit you. I don't think twice about it to be honest. It's one of those things. You have games where shots are falling."
-- Melissa Rohlin