Friday March 11, 2011, 1:32 p.m.
By Frank HanrahanCSNwashington.com
Who would you rather have to build your NBA franchise? A 6-foot-10, freakishly athletic power forward dunking champion or a world-class, 6-4, speedy point guard with vision and the ability to take over games?
It's a tough call, but from what I've seen so far from former No. 1 draft picks Blake Griffin of the Clippers and John Wall of the Wizards, both teams are in good hands. Now, it depends on what each franchise does in terms of putting the right players around the two that will ultimately decide who the better pick was. Right now, it's an easy one; the Clippers have the edge.
After missing last year with a knee injury, Griffin came out with a BANG. Griffin showed not onlythat he was a Youtube dunk sensation, but he can score and rebound aswell, averaging about 22 points 12 rebounds and nearly 4 assists agame. Griffin will likely run a way with the Rookie of the Year award,but the Clippers, like the Wizards, are rebuilding with a 25-40 record.
The Clippers have put some nice pieces around Griffin, so the rebuild may not take as long as the Wizards. The Clippers' took point guard Erik Bledsoe in last summer's draft and he played well enough to ship out veteran Baron Davis. Bledsoe's minutes have gone up as the season has progressed, and so have his numbers as he averages 8.9 points and 4.3 assists a game. Bledsoe, like his Kentucky teammate Wall, has speed to burn, and his style bodes well with Griffin who can also get up the court on the fast break and finish lobs from Bledsoe.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro has his point guard of the future in place and they already had a young gun in Eric Gordon at the shooting guard spot. Gordon, a Team USA player as well, is averaging a team high 23.7 point a game for the Clippers in just his third season in the NBA. Center Chris Kaman made the All-Star game last season but injury and inconsistent play has slowed the 28-year old this year, averaging just 11 points and 7 rebounds. But his backup De'Andre Jordan could be the future at that position, as he has emerged in his third NBA season sporting 6.9 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.
The Clippers seem headed in the right direction while the Wizards are trying to get their bearings.
Washington has seen flashes of brilliance from Wall but the team has stumbled to a 15-47 record. Wall is averaging 15.5 points, 8.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds per contest. When Wall is healthy and a has a bounce in his step, he is one of the toughest players to defend on the fast break. Plus, with his ability to relentlessly attack the rim, this makes him awfully tough to stop. But in a half court set, Wall is limited because of who is around him offensively and because teams are daring Wall to shoot. He is only shooting 40 percent from the field.
The Clippers undoubtedly have a foundation that they can build upon.This off season, the Wizards will have to start laying their foundationto truly build around Wall. They have two first round draft picks which is a nice start but they also need young players like Nick Young, Javale McGee and Andray Blatche to take huge steps towards becoming consistent factors alongside Wall.
Notes: Forward Josh Howard will play versus the Clippers after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury. Forward Andray Blatche (shoulder) and forward Rashard Lewis (knee) did not practice Friday and won't play against the Clippers. Lewis is getting a second opinion on his knee from a Dr. in Houston.