Today it was announced that Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers will undergo surgery for a staph infection in his right elbow. While the team has yet to put a time table on Griffin’s absence, he is speculated to be out for at least two weeks and for as many as six weeks.
Fortunately for the Clips, the All-Star break is fast approaching, which will limit the amount of games that Blake misses. If he makes a speedy recovery, he could miss as few as 3 or 4 games. However, if the injury and the surgery prove to be more serious than anticipated, it could hurt the Clippers in the standings.
While LAC is currently tied with the Golden State Warriors for the league’s best Offensive Efficiency rating, the team has been inconsistent as of late. They have won four of their last five games, yet they are 5-5 in their last 10, including losses at the hands of the Pelicans and the Brooklyn Nets. In the extremely tight playoff race out West, every single game counts.
Griffin’s absence is sure to hit the team hard, as he is their most impactful player. According to ESPN, the team averages 114 points per hundred possessions with Griffin on the court, and only 100 points per hundred possessions with him off. He is the team’s leading point scorer, and second in assists and rebounds.
So how might this help the Celtics? In case anyone forgot among the slew of upcoming draft picks for the C’s, they have an unprotected first-rounder from the Clippers in the 2015 draft. Despite being considered early contenders to make the NBA Finals, the Clips are in a position where it is actually very plausible for them to miss the playoffs. If this were to happen, it would give the Celtics the possibility of having not only their own first round pick, all-but guaranteed to be a top-10 pick, but also the Clippers first rounder within the top 14.
In many cases, the players picked in the 10-15 range of the first round turn out to be the cream of the crop. For example, in 2012 the San Antonio Spurs selected Kawhi Leonard 15th overall. In the same year, Golden State took Klay Thompson 11th overall. While perhaps not a player of the same caliber (yet), Boston used their 2013 1st round pick to select Kelly Olynyk 13th overall.
LAC currently hold the 6th seed with a record of 33-19. That puts them only 4 wins ahead of the 8th seeded Phoenix Suns who are 29-23. While the Suns currently hold the spot, the 8th seed is up for grabs in the West with OKC and the Pelicans both only a couple wins away from taking the position. To add to the Clippers woes, they also have an extremely difficult schedule over the next few weeks. Their opponents include the Mavericks, the Rockets twice, the Grizzlies twice, Kings, and the Bulls between now and March 1.
Nobody likes to see a young, aspiring NBA player out with an injury. Especially not someone as fun to watch as Blake Griffin. With that said, it is tough not to consider the possibilities that the injury brings for our boys in Green. It won’t be the Thunder or the Pelicans, but rather the C’s who will benefit the most if the Clips take a dip in the standings during Griffin’s absence.
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