LAS VEGAS -- Outstanding performances in the NBA's annual summer leagues are usually a good indicator of ... well, nothing really. Just ask
You get the idea.
Still, there may be one player whose July dominance will actually translate to regular-season success:
The No. 1 pick in the '09 draft made his Clippers debut Monday, and by any measure it was a screaming success. Utilizing power drives, post moves and a soft outside shooting touch, Griffin scored 27 points (on 11-of-15 shooting) to go with 12 rebounds in a
"That's about as good a start as you can have," Clippers coach and general manager
Offensively, the Clippers' approach with Griffin was simple: shoot early, shoot often. Griffin has a natural unselfishness that the team likes -- as long as it doesn't prevent him from taking advantage of his own scoring opportunities. Dunleavy even halted a recent practice to chastise Griffin for turning down an open 17-foot jump shot.
"He has a kind of free reign that most rookies don't have," said Clippers assistant coach
Defensively, the Clippers have been pleasantly surprised at how well Griffin has adapted to the NBA game. While Griffin's natural athleticism will make him a good shot-blocker in the league, he also was the most vocal Clipper on the floor on Monday and showed an ability to read offenses well. In the fourth quarter against the Lakers, Griffin sniffed out a play and slipped into position in time to take a game-clinching charge.
"That's the kind of thing I have been working on since college," Griffin said. "When I talk, I'm more aware of the game going on around me."
That's not to say Griffin's play was flawless. He got caught in bad positions a few times on high pick-and-rolls, committed five turnovers and showed a tendency to pull down rebounds and dribble out on the fast break.
"I'm not a big fan of that," Hughes said.
But the Clippers believe he will be in the starting lineup by December, moving either
"There is going to be a learning curve," Dunleavy said. "But we just want him to be aggressive. That's the way we want to see him play."
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• Representatives for
"If he had to pay [the $4.9 million]," a source close to the situation said, "it would be like he was playing his first two years [in the NBA] for free."
League rules prevent Minnesota from contributing more than $500,000 to the buyout, so all the Timberwolves can do is be supportive. However, it is looking more and more like Rubio will be playing in Europe next season, likely on a one-year contract.
"It's a big number," Kahn said. "It is a challenge. To the extent that we can be helpful and supportive, that's what we will do."
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