Saturday, June 6, 2009

Top Draft Prospect Blake Griffin Works Out For The Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers hosted a pre-draft work-out for the prospective number one pick in the 2009 NBA Draft on Saturday, June 6 at the Clippers Practice Facility in Playa Vista.

The consensus top player in the draft, Griffin arrived at the Clippers facility around 2 p.m. to a phalanx of television crews and photographers. After completing a stretching and warm-up session with Clippers Strength and Conditioning Coach Richard Williams, Griffin impressed the Clippers coaching staff during the nearly one hour work-out.

Griffin averaged 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma in 2008-09, and quickly put his unique skills on display for Clippers General Manager and Head Coach Mike Dunleavy, Assistant Coaches Kim Hughes and Fred Vinson and Assistant General Manager Neil Olshey.

Griffin started off the work-out with lay-ups and continued to show off his jump shot, as well as his athleticism and phenomenal ball control in full court drills that were frequently capped off with acrobatic dunks.

“We saw a really skilled and athletic player today,” said Hughes, who played a primary role in conducting the work-out. “He is a player with an NBA body and NBA skills, and I have no doubt that he will develop more. I feel like he has the ability to be an all-star for sure in the future.”

The 6-foot-10 inch power forward from Edmond, OK was named the Naismith, Wooden and AP Player of the Year in college basketball last season for his dominating performances during his sophomore year. A punishing force inside throughout his college career, Griffin exhibited strong footwork and agility while bringing the ball up court throughout the work-out with the Clippers.

The next step in the draft process for Griffin and the Clippers will take place on Thursday, June 25 during the NBA Draft at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where the Clippers own the number one selection in the draft.


CLIPPERS HEAD COACH AND GENERAL MANAGER MIKE DUNLEAVY

On Blake Griffin's workout...
“In this case we thought it was important to do something a little different with Blake. I think because of the clear statute he has in this draft, it was really important for our fans and the media to see the potential player we might pick. The last part was something you definitely don’t see, a 6’10 guy with big hands and his length dribbling basketballs as well as he did.”

On the personality of Blake Griffin...
“Unless you spend a lot of time with a player, it is hard to know their personality and characteristics. Blake is a tremendous talent and an even better kid. His maturity and mindset leave nothing to be desired, and he has a strong work ethic. I really cannot say enough about what a great kid he is and how well he fits in to any program.”

On the Clippers and another first-round draft pick...
“The more I see the new kids who are entering the draft this year, the more I like them. Getting this first round draft pick was really important to this team, and we needed it. With a pick like this, you typically keep it.”

On Blake Griffin and the Clippers...
“Blake [Griffin] is a type of kid who would fit into any type of system. One of the things I discussed with Blake [Griffin] is his potential to play three spots, the three, four and five. The things you really cannot see in a one-on-one workout like this is the way he competes and his physical energy—and that is part of what is so special about him.”

On Blake Griffin’s adjustment to NBA play...
“I do not think the conditioning or the physical aspect of the games will be an issue for Blake. I think he will face the typical issues most newcomers face. He is going to be part of a few different systems on the court, and he will have to learn some of the terminology and placements. There is a lot for a new player to learn in that regard. He will also be playing with bigger guys than he is used to. Some guys pick things up faster than others, but I do not think Blake will have a problem adjusting to any of it.”

On a potential position for Blake Griffin...
“You all saw him. He has a good enough mid-range shot that he needs to be guarded, and he definitely is not broke shot-wise. For now, the best thing to do is to see him play and then go from there.”

On the improvement of Blake Griffin...
“He says he needs to improve on all aspects of his game. Obviously, the more range he has the better he will be, but that is the case with most basketball players. His predominant strengths are his speed and quickness. He has a good first step, big hands and a strong finish at the rim. I like his mechanics, and there are certain things about his shot that need to be improved, and he will work on them.”

FORWARD BLAKE GRIFFIN

On today’s performance...
“I wish that I could have shot a little better but overall it was good. I love the facility out here and I think it went well.”

On the opportunity of becoming a Clipper...
“I am very excited about the possibility of becoming a Clipper. I am going into it just like everyone else. If this ends up being the place for me I would be very excited.”

On working out in front of crowd...
“I was not expecting this many people but it was good. Hopefully we will have more people than this at our games.”

On his ball handling skills...
“When I was in fifth grade I played on the eighth grade team and I played point guard back then. So I was no always the biggest guy so I had to learn to do different things from different positions.”

On meeting with Coach Mike Dunleavy...
“From what I heard we went to the best steakhouses in town and I did not order a steak but other than that it went great. I was able to talk to them and get to know them a little. They helped me get used to the city.”

On meeting with Coach Mike Dunleavy...
“We did not really get into the draft at all. Our conversations were more about getting to know each other. We did not really get into their plans at all but maybe in the upcoming weeks we can get into that more.”

On his role for the Clippers...
“Right now I am just looking to come in and fill a gap that they do not have. They have a great group of veterans and a great group of young guys. I think that if I am here that we can definitely turn around and start winning.”

On being the No. 1 pick...
“It would mean a lot to me. This is something that I have dreamt about as long as I knew what the NBA Draft was. For it to be so close is kind of surreal but it has not been something I have thought about too much.”

On the play of the Clippers...
“Obviously last year they had a lot of injuries and their record was not great. But I think if you had those players on the court that moving forward this can be a great team. They have a great cast of veterans and young guys so they can definitely turn around and be successful.”

On meeting other Clippers players...
“I have known DeAndre Jordan and Eric Gordon for awhile. I had a chance to talk to DeAndre (Jordan) this morning and I met Baron Davis during my physical. Baron (Davis) is a great guy and seems like he is working hard.”

On being in Los Angeles...
“It is a little different. No part of Oklahoma is like Los Angeles But I feel like I could get used to it.

On who he models his game after...
“I was a big fan of Shaquille O’Neal when I was little. I also admired guys like Grant Hill and Vince Carter. I admired guys that were consistently good.”

On Oklahoma City not getting the first pick...
“There is no disappointment at all. I would have loved to play in my hometown and be close to my family. But being in the NBA is good enough. One thing that I wanted to do was play in a big city and it does not get much bigger than Los Angeles.”

On his Focus during team workouts...
“I have been doing little more perimeter things. I still need to keep working on my shot and getting the pull up jumper into my repertoire. I need to keep fine tuning my weapons.”

On his shooting performance at the workout...
“My shot has been better I should say. Today was not great for me shooting. I feel like I do not have to rely on my jumper but it had been something that I have been working on. Later on I think that everyone will see that it is improving.”