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Rookie Development Watch


This post got started after a comment left in my last post and also because I don’t want this blog to be all about game recaps.  I’m pretty sure I can do better than that.

So as of right now, the Clippers currently have 3 rookies on guaranteed contracts in Blake Griffin, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Eric Bledsoe.  Technically I still have to call Blake Griffin a rookie because he did not play a single game last season (darn you Craig Smith).  And we also got two other rookies that are on the roster but can be cut any time in Willie Warren and Marquis Blakely.  Willie Warren was Blake Griffin’s teammate back in Oklahoma and was considered a lottery pick back in 2009.  His stock has quietly fallen in the last season of college ball because he was trying too hard to be the number one guy for the Sooners but just couldn’t do it without the help of Mister Griffin by his side.  I do not know much about Marquis Blakely besides the fact that he is an athletic forward who can dunk.  But because neither of them played in preseason, this post shall be about the three main rookies.

Clippers GM traded a first round pick for Eric Bledsoe so I’m sure he is banking on him to be the point guard of the future.  Anyone who watched summer league this year can see that there is a lot of work for Bledsoe.  He is turnover prone and really out of control.  He logged 30 minutes in his first game of preseason and contributed 9 points, 1 assist, and 3 rebounds.  Oh yeah, there was also 6 turnovers too but because it was the first game and it seemed like every Clipper had at least 2 turnovers, I shall let it slide.  He did not even play in the next game against the Kings and every game since then, he logged in few minutes or had a DNP.  One would expect rookies to have more minutes during preseason but seeing how the Clippers have a new coach, new system, and a lot of new players, I think Vinny Del Negro wants the rotation players to log in as much minutes as possible first.  Eric Bledsoe does seem to be developing some bright spots, being able to record 3 assists in only 5 minutes of playing time against Denver.  Using advanced statistics (or simple multiplication) that would mean 21 assists in 36 minutes of playing time, wouldn’t that be amazing?  He is still turning the ball over a lot though because in that same game, he had 2 turnovers in those 5 minutes.  Dude needs to learn how to hold the ball.  But Baron Davis has enough skills to mentor Eric Bledsoe and mold him into an elite point guard, and possibly midway through the season, Del Negro would become more comfortable giving Bledsoe more minutes.

Next up is Al-Farouq Aminu.  The lottery pick and hopefully future small forward of the Clippers.  He also has not received much playing time recently.  His last game with over 15 minutes of of game time was against the Warriors where he logged in 28 minutes and he scored 13 points while grabbing 4 rebounds which is pretty decent in my book.  The 2 for 7 three point shooting irks me but Aminu was never known as a lights out shooter so I don’t expect him to always make his threes.  Like Bledsoe, Aminu still has a lot of developing to do and will take some time.  He has a great nose for the ball though and anyone that watches him play will see him attacking the boards going after rebounds almost all the time.  Lack of playing time can be explained the same with Bledsoe.  He’s a rookie that needs more work and his development can take a backseat to team and chemistry development for preseason.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts getting more playing time somewhere in the season just as Eric Gordon and Al Thornton did in their rookie years (and both still ended up in rookie first team of the season).

Blake Griffin = Beast.  To say that he has been anything short of spectacular this preseason is an understatement.  All the people watching Clippers games can see that he is hungry to prove himself after a missed year.  He is averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds so far in preseason.  Against the Spurs when he was having a really bad shooting night, he still took down 17 rebounds.  Every game, he’s throwing down dunks like his ex-girlfriend is at the bottom of the rim.  Forget John Wall, Blake Griffin is the number one candidate for rookie of the year right now (yes I’m allowed to be biased).   There really isn’t any more I have to say about him.  Blake Griffin is the player that the Clippers needed ever since Elton Brand left, ever since Shaun Livingston became crippled, and ever since the entertaining and talented Darius Miles was traded away (I kidd).  But he still needs to develop a jumpshot so the defense can stop leaving him open to take one.  His free throws is also kind of horrendous too.  It’s not on a DeAndre Jordan level but could still use some work.  Some post moves would be nice too or else he would be stuck on an Amare Stoudamire level of offensive skills.  Defensively, he’s on point, I don’t see any huge issues there.  But once he gains more offensive moves in his arsenal, he’ll truly become unstoppable.