Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Most every 2013-14 NBA MVP list begins and ends with LeBron James versus Kevin Durant, but a case can be made that Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin belongs in the conversation.
In a league filled with high-flying, jaw-dropping athletes, Griffin may be the most talented of all.
Griffin is a human-highlight film on a nightly basis in a way not seen since Dominique Wilkins ran the floor in the 1980s and 1990s.
While James is a monster talent who can physically overpower quick small forwards and run past most power forwards, Griffin usually just sails overtop his opponents.
At 6-foot-10, 250 lbs with a 40-inch vertical leap there are few players who can run or jump with the fourth-year pro. He's averaging a career-high 24.4 ppg while still pulling down 9.7 rpg and dishing out 3.6 apg.
His rebounding total is actually down from his first two seasons, but that has more to do with the players surrounding him. With center DeAndre Jordan coming into his own as a rebounder, Griffin doesn't have to play as much underneath the basket.
What Griffin has done is improve his all-around game, particularly when star point guard Chris Paul was out of the lineup for 18 consecutive games.
Paul played just nine of 27 games during January and February due to a separated shoulder and during that time, Griffin's numbers shot through the roof.
After averaging 21.7 ppg and 3.0 apg over the first three months this season, Griffin scored at a 25.7 ppg pace and dished out 4.3 helpers in January and 30.0 ppg and 3.8 apg in February.
Even with Paul's return this month, Griffin continues to score above his season average (26.0 ppg in March) and dish out the assists (4.2 apg). Fantasy owners are loving this new level of production.
And that's the mark of a truly great player ... one who can adapt his game to his team's needs.
What the Clippers needed was their star on the floor every night and Griffin has played in all 66 games to date.
They needed someone to pick up the scoring gap left when Paul (18.6 ppg) was out of the lineup and Griffin did that.
They needed someone to take the pressure off the rest of the team, to be the focal point of the opposition defense, and Griffin has done that.
In fact, it appears that many teams, frustrated with their inability to stop Griffin, have taken to getting physical with him in the hopes of taking him out of his game (see incidents with Greg Oden and P.J. Tucker). For the most part, however, that hasn't worked.
Earlier in his career, there was talk that Griffin wasn't capable of being the No. 1 guy, that he needed a point guard to bring out his abilities, That talk has all but disappeared this season. Darren Collison is a solid backup point guard, but when Paul, who most consider the best pure point guard in the NBA, was sidelined the offense ran through Griffin.
Paul has missed 19 games this season and with Griffin leading the way the Clippers went 13-6 during those absences. They own the third best record in the Western Conference and lead the Pacific Division by five games. Credit Griffin for a lot of it.
While he may not be at the James/Durant statistical level yet, he's getting closer and fantasy owners should be paying close attention to his improving all-around game.