In a comment/response to the great revken in Steve Hinson’s piece on Blake Griffin, I stated the reasons why Blake Griffin could be the best player in the Eastern Conference next season, and these are also reasons why he should be an MVP candidate:
He’s in his prime
He’s the unquestioned leader of a team for the first time since his Clippers days before Chris Paul arrived
He’s more seasoned than Giannis
He’s more of a force than Horford
He can be less mercurial than Embiid
He is a more polished version of Ben Simmons (and has a jumper)
His team needs him more than Kyrie
The only player that could and should be better in the East is Kawhi but, yeah….but
Those are all solid reasons, no?
Put those with these:
Reasons Griffin has a chance at MVP
- LeBron is out West with a team of a, um, questionable make up. Good luck, it’ll be interesting. Hi LaVar!
- Harden just won and the wheels on the Houston bus will soon be loosened then kicked tirelessly by Carmelo Anthony.
- Westbrook won’t win again, he got his participation prize for carrying his post-Durant OKC team to the playoffs plus the triple double thing. Bulldog AI has had his day.
- Durant/Curry will again cancel each other out and the season will be more about “when will Boogie come back?!?”
- Anthony Davis is playing for New Orleans who found their greatest success with “playoff Rondo” who is now a member of the LA “you signed who?!” Lakers.
- Damian Lillard is the guard who cried wolf, boo-hooing about not being seen as elite and then stinking up the playoffs.
- John Wall has the talent but wants respect more than he wants to win to get it. Hi Dwight!
- Victor Oladipo is no out-of-nowhere hero anymore, the pressure will be on him in triple and we’ll see if he can handle it.
- As I said earlier Embiid is too mercurial, and with the shine off of the 76’ers as upstarts I see conflict with him and Simmons on the horizon. Plus that old injury bug is waiting in the shadows, cleaning its antennae.
- Again as earlier stated Kyrie, Boston has too many players vying for attention on his own squad with Tatum, Horford, Brown and now Hayward all being the best player any given night. Nice problem to have by the way.
- Giannis will be great, his continued rise will make him a candidate but his teammates are not still not ideal.
- Kawhi is Blake’s MVP chance-killer numero uno in the East. But if you see it all going smoothly out of the gate chances are you are A: a Kawhi fan or B: a Raptors fan. (if it’s B you can show yourself out, metaphorically)
- Dwane Casey being jilted/cast off too soon if and when Toronto under Nick Nurse with Kawhi in tow doesn’t pan out will be a storyline all year and put the Pistons on everyone’s radar. Lots of people will be rooting for Casey and DeMar to succeed (and we all know DeMar does not a serious MVP candidate make).
And then there’s the more close to home stuff, like Griffin being put together with a team of cast-offs and counted-outs, he himself being being chief among them.
Do not discount chips on shoulders
Here’s a list of individual Pistons and their various reasons for having various sizes and shapes of chips on their shoulders this season, each which will contribute to Griffin’s MVP candidacy as they help Detroit vie for a playoff spot next season:
Dwane Casey: Coach of the Year sent bye bye because his two best players sh!t the bed every time LeBron showed up. People are already not so quietly wondering if he wouldn’t be a better coach for a team that just mortgaged the farm on a one year Kawhi rental.
Blake Griffin: Once top ten player left for dead at the age of 29 (six months younger than Durant by the way). His former old lady is also seeing Ben Simmons. 76’ers games should be interesting.
Reggie Jackson: Often injured, over paid, cockier than thou... this guy has a permanent chip embedded in his shoulder.
Andre Drummond: Out of fashion big man who is only the best rebounder possibly ever. Casey will have to manage the chip on his shoulder to make sure it doesn’t turn him moody rather than hungry (per the norm).
Stanley Johnson: Never going to amount to anything, could’ve been Devin Booker.
Luke Kennard: Sweet shooting lefty but will never be Donovan Mitchell.
Reggie Bullock: One of the premier 3 and D players who no one talks or cares about.
Glen Robinson III: He’s Big Dog’s son??!
Jon Leuer: He’s getting how much? And he didn’t play a minute last year?
Ish Smith: Yeah, whatever, speedy but no jumpshot.
Langston Galloway: Nice overpay Pistons! 3 and D with neither 3 nor D.
Henry Ellenson: Get to the G league, stat!
Khyri Thomas/Bruce Brown: Second rounders, enjoy the bus rides to Grand Rapids fellas!
Zaza Pachulia: Wait, you picked the Pistons instead of retiring?
Jose Calderon: He’s still in the league?
Literally every single player has a right to have a massive chip on their shoulder and they are led by a coach and a player who have the biggest rights of all. This year could be a massive failure or it could lead to a year no one saw coming like the group of cast-offs that won the championship in ‘04. They all have reasons to dig in and make some noise this year and with Griffin as the head of the snake, don’t be surprised if he’s up there on the MVP list.
Only time will tell, but it looks interesting as hell to me. Go get ‘em Blake.