There are elite players in every sport. Blake Griffin is not one of them. With his great play this year, some fans have jumped the gun and put him into the "elite" category and its a slap in the face to the handful of actual elite players in the NBA's history.
The truth is, this is just the latest casualty of its kind. People have been classifying undeserving players as elite for years. Don't get me wrong, Blake Griffin is having a monster season this year and should get credit for that, but to put him on the same list as guys like Karl Malone, Tim Duncan and Charles Barkley should be punishable by exile.
This overuse of the word elite needs to stop, America! Saying that a player like Blake Griffin is on the same level as a guy like Bill Russell is like saying a Whopper is on par with a prime rib from Ruth's Chris, its ridiculous. How can we stop this madness and decide which players are deserving of the title and which aren't? Its actually very simple, just ask yourself, "Are they top 10 in at least one major stat category (scoring, rebounding, assists, etc) for their entire career? What individual awards do they have (ie MVP, defensive POY, etc.) and can they single-handendly take over a game when their team needs them to? If a player doesn't fit this mold, he is not elite. Given this "elite player guideline" let's take a look at Blake Griffin thus far in his career and see if he makes the cut.
Is He Top 10 in at least One Major Stat Category?
Being that Griffin is only 24, he isn't sniffing the top 10 in any categories yet. He does average 21 ppg and 10 rpg for his career so far so he could definitely move up into the top tier in those by the time he retires. With his new found jump shot this season, he's seeing his best scoring numbers in his short NBA career. If he develops some better post moves,his career will be longer and he'll still be able to score when he is no longer able to use his body strength to score in the paint. As for now, he does not meet this qualification.
What Individual Awards Does he Have?
Anyone who doesn't have an MVP is not elite. Griffin is still young and has time to earn the honor of league MVP, but if you don't have it, you're not elite. Not only has Griffin never won MVP, he's never even made the all NBA-first team. He was the 2010 Rookie of the Year and he does hold the Los Angeles Clippers franchise record for most double-doubles in a season with 63, but without that MVP you will never get my vote for elite status.
Can He Take Over a Game?
This one will be determined in this year's post season because we have seen him tkae games over so far this regular season. I have also seen him almost disappear come playoff time. In the 17 past season games Griffin has played in, he's averaged 17 ppg and 6 rpg, lower than his career regular season numbers. Elite players show up for their teams in the post season, Griffin clearly hasn't taken that step yet.
Given these qualifications, Blake Griffin is not an elite NBA player. Can he be one day? I believe so but let's stop watering down the word elite and make players earn the title. If Griffin continues to improve he very well could join the group, as for now though, he's just a very good young player.