Blake Griffin, the #1 overall pick in 2009, is averaging 22.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists, and .486 field goal shooting in this fifth season with the Clippers.
Also in his fifth season, DeMarcus Cousins — the #5 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, is averaging 24.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists a game while shooting .514 from the field.
So which player is better fit to build a team around? To answer this question, we extract relevent quotations from the Reddit thread “Would you rather build a team around DeMarcus Cousins or Blake Griffin?“
“People are giving short answers with not much to back it up, but it’s a lot harder than one would think.
DMC seems to be the most obvious choice, but that’s because he’s been going HAM lately. A lot of people, including this sub, questioned his attitude and talent for a long time before several breakout performances. He’s a great back-to-basket center, solid passer and rebounder and can hit long range shots although he’s best in the paint and mid-range. He’s not a premier rim protector and can still improve in both his technical skill and attitude, but he’s made great progress recently as he’s has to take up a partial leadership role for the Kings. Definitely an All-Star quality center.
Blake has been posting less stellar stats recently but the rate at which he’s growing as a player cannot be understated. Coming into the league as an athletic project who’s great at finishing near the rim, the evolution in both his shooting and footwork in the post is extraordinary. Not many player get that much better at both at the same time, especially not this fast. His passing’s also gotten much better, up to the point where it’s not surprising for him to run fastbreaks when CP3 isn’t on the floor or even acting as the penultimate finisher of half-court sets. His ceiling is very very high, especially if he works on his outside shooting while being consistent at finishing in the paint.
Now comes the question of who the build around. Despite me just praising Blake’s potential, centers like DeMarcus are hard to find. Blake will improve to be one of the top five power forwards in the game but DeMarcus actually has the potential to be one of the most dominant centers in the next few years.”
Shared by Reddit user Kantei
“I’d say Boogie only cause it’s so much easier to find a good PF than a good C.”
Shared by Reddit user Atownbomber
“With DeMarcus’ vast improvement on the defensive end this year, I think this is a non-contest – and I have a ton of respect for Blake.”
Cousins does just about anything Blake does(drawing fouls, rebounding, passing, anchoring an offense) – on top of having more size and just being able to anchor a defense.
Then we go to the mentality part of the game – Cousins is just a natural on the court in everything he does, and he just has that edge and hunger to dominate and show everyone exactly who’s the biggest and baddest player on the court. That sells it to me personally more then anything.”
Shared by Reddit user boogieDMC
“I’d take Cousins. Imagine if Cousins had CP3 and DJ to work with. And the ability to pass out of double teams to shooters like Reddick and Crawford. Cousins is carrying that Sacramento team right now, even with Gay playing his best basketball.”
Shared by Reddit user klizmik
The above quotes basically encapsulate the key points of the argument.
First of all, you can’t gauge how good Blake Griffin is by his stats. His stats have gone down or stayed stagnant across the board since a dominant rookie season, but anyone who watches the Clippers will turn you that he has in fact gotten much better since entering the league.
In particular, his rebounding has dropped steeply since his rookie season, gradually descending from his rookie mark of 12.1 to 7.9 this season.
But at the same time, Griffin plays next to DeAndre Jordan, who has emerged in the last two seasons as one of the NBA’s premium defensive centers. Jordan leads the league in rebounding this season with 13.6. In addition, Griffin is a key fast-break player — and not just a finisher. Possibly unbeknownst to less informed fans, Griffin actually has excellent ball-handling skills in the open court. As a result, Griffin plays considerably further from the basket in Doc River’s gameplan than he used to.
On the other hand, Blake Griffin has seen extroadinary improvement in his post game, footwork, shooting, and passing. As mentioned, he often plays point-forward in fast break situations.
To truly and most effectively take in Griffin’s skill set and the evolution of his game requires visual evidence. Below are a compilation of Griffin’s offensive highlights from the 2013-2014 season.
As for Cousins, as stated by the quotes above, Cousin’s strengths include all of Griffin’s strengths – “drawing fouls, rebounding, passing, anchoring an offense.” Cousins is also a great shooter for a big man, and is a very underrated passer and ball-handler.
Unfortunately for Blake, if we’re really talking about who is better to build a team around, there are intangibles in the argument outside of his control
For one, compared to all other positions, the center position in the NBA lags far behind in depth.
For the power forward position, you have a plethora of elite players. Just off the top of the head, they include LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Anthony Davis, Griffin, Anthony Davis, Kevin Love, etc.
For the center position, the top names of the list are players such as Joakim Noah Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan — players all with major defiencies(post moves, for one), and of course, Cousins.
This makes Cousins — a center, a rarer and more valuable asset.
Furthermore, Griffin is flanked by a fellow all-star in CP3, and shooters such as JJ Redick and Jamal Crawford. Meanwhile, besides Rudy Gay, Cousins plays on a Kings team thin on talent. Therefore, it is scary to think about just how good Cousins could be playing with top-tier talent.
Winner: DeMarcus Cousins