This changes nothing, though. Oklahoma power forward
"He is that far ahead of the pack," one personnel boss said of Griffin versus the field.
"Right now," another executive added, "it's a clear difference."
The landslide is at least a partial surprise. To many around the league, a difference-maker at point guard is harder to acquire than a difference-maker at power forward. That should be an obvious lean to Rubio, in much the same way most teams would have taken
Other considerations just matter more:
Executive No. 2: "The guy [Griffin] is a special athlete, for one thing. When it comes to athleticism, he's freakish. And he's a big guy. I know point guards are hard to find. But so are bigs."
"There's certainly that fear that maybe his game won't translate, that maybe he's the Spanish
Meanwhile, teams were able to watch most, if not every, Oklahoma game, whether in person or on TV. The Sooners competed in a prominent conference, were one of the top teams in the nation with Griffin in the spotlight, and played into the second round of the 2008 tournament and to a regional final in '09.
"With those factors," the first executive said of a potential Rubio challenge, "I don't think there's any way he goes No. 1."
The Kings, with the greatest chance to draw the first pick in the May 19 lottery, have an obvious need for a point guard over a power forward --
But if Griffin is bottom-line better than Rubio through the very few individual workouts they consent to, and it's not a close vote right now, the Kings go Griffin as the practical move and the safe move. Besides, they're only one season into a regrettable five-year deal with Udrih, and president
The Wizards, with the second-best chance at the top spot, have
The Clippers, with the third-best chance, have
The Thunder, with the fourth-best chance, have the only no-brainer among the teams with the best chance to pick first. They play in Oklahoma City. Griffin is from an OKC suburb.
The success of Denver in the first round has been because of
The unpredictable rise to Northwest Division champions and No. 2 in the Western Conference, after being sent head first out of the opening round a year ago, is nothing compared to how they got there. The Nuggets finished 14th in field-goal-percentage defense and 29th in scoring defense last season, then traded the 2006-07 Defensive Player of the Year (Camby) ... and finished fourth in shooting defense and 19th in scoring defense. The emphasis on stopping the ball came a season later than coach
It's not 2007-08 anymore, in a lot of ways:
• All the pressure is on the Rockets, the franchise unable to get out of the first round, even with a 3-2 lead over the Trail Blazers as the series returns to Texas on Thursday. If Houston does advance, it's the best chance anyone has to defend
• The breakdown for Boston:
• The Mavericks didn't just step over the gimpy Spurs. Dallas played its way out of No. 8 in the West -- and an inevitable first-round exit against the Lakers -- and reached all the way to No. 6 by winning seven of its final nine regular-season games. In that time, it dropped 140 and 130 on Phoenix and Utah, respectively, in consecutive games, beat Houston and split a home-and-home with New Orleans back when that may have meant something. Though San Antonio was nowhere close to being the real San Antonio, the Mavs have earned their place in the second round.
• It's foolish to put too much stock in one quote after one game, especially a game with the emotions of a season-ending defeat, but just try disregarding the