Lob City Questions: Can Blake Griffin lead the league in scoring?

facebooktwitterreddit

Editors Note: Beware of small sample sizes

If I told you Blake Griffin had a chance at winning the scoring title this season would you believe me? Probably not, but during the ascension to superstardom, Griffin’s scoring has taken a nifty uptick toward “scoring champion”.

After three games — including an extremely poor outing against the Sacramento Kings — Griffin is currently 26.3 points per game, 7th in the NBA behind Klay Thompson (GSW), Anthony Davis (NOP), Chris Bosh (MIA) , Stephen Curry (GSW), Joe Johnson (BKN), and LeBron James (CLE).

With the small forward spot doing little and a bench whose struggling is shifty outside of Jamal Crawford and Spencer Hawes, Griffin has been tasked with doing more a tad bit more than he has had to do in past seasons during the CP3-Griffin era, as seen through his usage rate (An estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor — per Basketball Reference) which, at 30.4 per NBA Stats, would mark for the highest of his

While Griffin’s offense has been nothing short of spectacular up to this point in the season, doing everything the Clippers ask of him from scoring inside to knocking down shots from the outside, the field of competition — for several reasons –is depleted in 2014-15, raising Griffin’s chances of competition for the scoring title.

Last years scoring champion Kevin Durant is expected to miss 20 to 25 percent of the season (16 to 20 games), taking him out of the equation as a qualifier. His teammate in Russell Westbrook, one who many thought could leap into the conversation, is also out after breaking his finger against the Clippers. He’s expected to miss at least four weeks. Paul George is out for the season. LeBron James, despite currently being in the top-5, and Kevin Love are expected to drop as they’re forced to share touches between themselves and scoring guard Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.

That leaves the likes of Carmelo Anthony and James Harden, both of whom finished top-5 in points per game last season alongside Durant, Love, and James. Considering the depletions to their teams, Anthony and Harden are in the perfect position to contend for the scoring title — right now Harden averages 25.3 points through three games while Anthony averages 19.5 through 2 games.

Three wildcards? Anthony Davis and the Splash Brothers. Can Klay Thomason average 30 points throughout the season? Seems unlikely even if he’s looking to have turned the corner as a scorer, and a scoring increase from Klay hurts Curry’s scoring. And depending on the guards and wings around him (Holiday, Evans, Gordon, Rivers, Fredette), Davis could remain in the top-5.

If Griffin is able to continue this scoring streak, he’d pull off a very uncommon feat — bigs don’t win the scoring title often. Dating back to the 1970-71 season when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar averaged a league-high 34.84 points per game, only three bigs have led the league in scoring: Bob McAdoo (BUF) in 1975-76, David Robinson (SAS) in 1993-94, and Shaquille O’Neal in 1994-95 (ORL) and in 1999-2000 (LAL) — that’s less than 10 percent of the seasons since Kareem’s ’70-71 season or one every 10.75 seasons.

[table id=23 /]

It’s been 14 seasons since O’Neal did it last, so maybe Griffin can be the player whom the law of averages deems fit to continue the sporadic scoring title ownership for big men .

More from Clipperholics