Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin has not seen the floor since a victory over city rivals, the Lakers, back on Christmas day 2015. Since then, an altercation with the Clippers equipment manager, a broken hand and partially torn quadriceps has restricted him to the sidelines while his team have gone on a fine run of 24-9.
As a five-time NBA All-Star, on pure ability alone, Griffin figures to be in Team USA's plans when they head to Rio de Janeiro this summer in search of their third straight Olympic gold medal.
However, his issues this season and lack of time on the hardwood - having missed a third of the regular season now - has led to speculation that Griffin will be passed over when Mike Krzyzewski comes to name his final 12-man roster.
Article continues below
Speaking at the U.S Olympic Committee's media summit on Wednesday, USAB Chairman Jerry Colangelo insisted that the door was still open for Oklahoma-born Griffin to contribute for his country in Brazil this summer.
“I don’t think we have any issues with any of our players regarding personal conduct,” he said. “People can have opinions of what one player did or didn’t do.
Article continues below
"Many of them are still pretty young guys subject to making mistakes. We’ve all made mistakes. I don’t judge people based on that. If they’re people of good character and they can play, they’ve got a shot to represent us.”
The 26-year-old boasts career averages of 21.6 points, and 9.6 rebounds a night throughout his six years in Los Angeles. Griffin is almost certainly in the discussion of the best power forwards in the NBA.
Colangelo has also stated that Team USA will crunch some numbers before picking their final 12 to take to South America. Given the Clippers level of performance in Griffin's absence, the number one draft pick in 2009 will have some convincing to do upon his return in that regard.
“[One thing we’re looking at is] combinations of players,” Colangelo explained. “Certain players play better with certain players, and sometimes it’s water and oil. [Analytics] is kind of a new venture for us, but only as a tool [in the decision-making process]. I’m excited about that.”
This is surely great news for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green, who serve as the glue to the record-breaking franchises they play for.
Before last night's results, San Antonio Spurs star Leonard ranked second in the NBA in Real Plus Minus (+9.6), as well as boasting an excellent +15.7 net rating for a side that has gone 54–10.
Green, meanwhile, ranks fourth in Real Plus Minus (+8.9) and has a +19.5 net rating for the league-leading 56–6 Warriors and is, arguably, the cog that allows the 'Splash Brothers', Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, to thrive.