No one ever accused Michael Beasley of selling out to defense. But his latest comments about Blake Griffin testify to his honesty.
Here’s what Beasley said when asked about the Minnesota Timberwolves’ defensive game plan for Wednesday night, when they play Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers in the Staples Center:
“Don’t get dunked on.”
Was he kidding or shedding light on Blake’s 47-point explosion against the Indiana Pacers Monday? Griffin scored on an array of turnaround jumpers, bank shots and up-and-unders. It produced the highest scoring game by an NBA player this season — but only one dunk.
It would be unwise to say Beasley speaks for a growing number of NBA players. Sometimes you have to wonder if he’s even speaking for himself. But as Blake continues to bully his way through his rookie season, keep Beasley’s words in mind.
Miami teammates Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh said essentially the same thing before their first meeting with Blake, and we know how that turned out. Blake Griffin: 24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists. LeBron James: 27-8-5. Clippers win. (Think about that: In his first meeting with King James, Blake had more assists.)
More than once I’ve seen power forwards on playoff teams defense Blake by backing off and offering him a turnaround jumper — from the low block. Among them: Bosh. “”In certain positions you’re not going to challenge him,” Bosh said. “I think he’s proven enough that he’ll go over the top of people. You just have to pick and choose your spots.
I’m really not much of a shot-blocker. I’m going to contest, but I’m not going to contest if he’s 10 feet in the air already.”
If there is an emerging save-face, risk-defeat strategy, it’s working for the Clippers. They’ve won 10 of 15.
– More Beasley-Griffin: Remember way back in 2008, when everyone in the country just knew Beasley was a better player than Blake? In their only collegiate meeting, Beasley had 32 points and 11 rebounds in Kansas State’s 84-82 victory at Oklahoma. Blake, of course, was no slouch in that game (27 points, 14 rebounds). Now both are in the NBA. Both have Big 12 Player of the Year attached to their names. Both have had their professional struggles — Beasley with substance abuse, Blake with injuries. But on the other side of those struggles, Beasley has seemingly resurrected his career in Minnesota and Blake is resurrecting the league’s most hapless franchise. And you don’t see anyone asking Blake Griffin about his defensive strategy for stopping Michael Beasley.
– That didn’t take long: Laker fans are already cooking up scenarios under which they pilfer another budding Clipper star. They did it with Byron Scott. They eventually did it with Lamar Odom — via Miami. Now they’re offering Pau Gasol-for-Blake trade scenarios and speculating how Blake will handle Decision 2014 — and we’re not talking about his vote in the next mid-term congressional elections.
Of course Lakers fans are not alone, at least five Thunder fans have asked me this week “how good would the Thunder be with Blake?” Remember, the Thunder went to the commercial break before the 2009 NBA Lottery with Scott Brooks standing there with representatives of the Clippers and Grizzlies — probably the only time Brooks has been comfortable in that kind of company — waiting to see which of them held the Blake Griffin Golden Ticket. The Grizzlies pulled it and Thunder — and now Laker — fans are left counting the days until Blake’s a free agent.
– Blake’s Dunk Face: It’s not Michael Jordan’s tongue-wagging, but Blake is developing a look, a dunk face. Check out Sports Illustrated’s Blake Griffin: Dunk Machine gallery, and tell me if you see the same thing I see. In almost every dunk it looks like Blake curls his upper lip like an old man who hasn’t put in his dentures and doesn’t want anyone to know it. Blake Griffin, Denture Dunker. I don’t think that’s going to work.
– Blake’s top 10: He’s less than three months into his pro career and Blake already has his own top 10 plays on nba.com.
What they’re saying: The latest word on Blake
– Golden State coach Keith Smart: “I don’t think we’ve ever seen a guy whose energy level is that high. The guy plays at an incredible rate… He’s electric. He keeps the fans involved, because everything he does is at a high, high rate. He’s a super-high competitor.” )Source: sfgate.com)
– Golden State center David Lee: “He’s somewhat athletic (note the sarcasm). “That really sets up the rest of his game. When he picks up more of a feel for the game, he’s going to get even better. The only guy I’ve ever seen like him was Amar’e (Stoudemire) before he hurt his knee, but Griffin is an even stronger version of that.” (Source: sfgate.com)