Griffin Says ’Sooner’ He Joins Suns, the Better
Posted: June 25, 2009
The draft is turning into a family affair for the Phoenix Suns.
Thirty years after the Van Arsdales teamed up in the Valley of the Sun, one half of the Lopez brothers landed on Planet Orange in 2008. Just one summer removed from selecting Robin Lopez, the Suns continued the fraternal tradition by selecting Oklahoma University’s own Taylor Griffin. And like his predecessor Robin, Taylor Griffin is also looking to add some size and toughness to Phoenix’s frontcourt.
“I was ecstatic, they’ve been one of my favorite teams for a long time now,” Griffin told Suns.com. “I’ve been watching them play since high school and have always appreciated how they continued to bring in guys year after year who played well together alongside Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire. I was extremely excited to hear I would become a part of that.”
The older brother of 2009 No. 1 overall pick, Blake Griffin, Taylor had to wait 47 selections more before being called onto the stage. But he said that the anticipation made it more than worth it.
“I was able to enjoy the first round and in the second round I did start thinking a bit about all the possibilities for where I might end up,” the former Sooner said. “I’m definitely happy about where I landed and think I can fit right in here.”
The sky could be the limit for Griffin whose numbers improved in each season at Oklahoma University. In his fourth and final season with the Sooners, the pre-health and exercise science major averaged 9.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in 36 contests. His best individual performance perhaps came in a 22-point, eight-rebound effort during a win at Texas Tech.
"The thing that distinguishes Taylor from a lot of people is that he has tremendous feel for the game," Suns assistant general manager David Griffin said. "He's an outstanding passer and a very good transition player. Defensively, he's someone in the mold of a Lou Amundson who's going to guard multiple positions."
Griffin feels his 6-7, 238-pound frame coupled with his work ethic will suit Phoenix’s style of play perfectly. The Suns’ front office happens to agree.
“He’s a guy who is a basketball player and is big and athletic,” Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr said of his newest rookie. “He plays hard every possession and does a lot of things well. I’m actually surprised that people weren’t higher on him and I’m not sure why. We’ll get a look at him during summer league and we’ll see how it goes. We are excited to have him.”
After playing for his father in high school, it was actually his college coach, Jeff Capel, who gave Griffin the nickname of “Bam Bam.” The moniker serves as just a taste of the toughness and intensity that Griffin will be bringing with him to the Valley. The tenacity Griffin displays on the court, in fact, has even gotten in the way of brotherly love at times.
“The battles got pretty heated,” Taylor said of his days playing against Blake as a youth. “There were even times my mother had to step in and separate us, but that’s how it is. We’re both very competitive and we’re both going to go at it when playing against each other.”
But despite the bad blood that sometimes spilt in their childhood driveway, Taylor could not respect his younger brother any more. In fact, he even played the role of recruit when it came time for the younger Griffin to select a college.
“He was looking at a number of schools and was obviously a guy who had options,” Taylor said. “I told him how much I believed in coach Jeff Capel and what he was trying to do and how I thought he would fit into our program. He bought into the philosophy and it worked out.”
It’s worked out well for both brothers. While Blake will be taking his game to Los Angeles, his older brother will have the opportunity to play alongside a two-time MVP in Steve Nash.
“I’ve already had the chance to speak with Alvin Gentry, Steve Kerr and David Griffin," the ecstatic prospect said. "They told me they were very excited to have me and very excited about the opportunity I would have. They believe I’ll do well in this situation and I’ll thrive and have the chance at showing off my strengths. I haven’t had the opportunity to speak with any of my new teammates but definitely want them to know that I’m going to work extremely hard to make this work and am very thankful for getting this opportunity.”