Only a year after he was sitting in a Los Angeles apartment, surprised to find out that he was likely going to be a Wizard instead of a New Jersey Net, John Wall will represent the franchise on stage at the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday night in Secaucus, N.J.
Griffin wasn’t exactly a second-year player since he missed the entire 2009-10 season after suffering a fractured left patella in the Clippers’ preseason finale. He averaged 13.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in seven preseason games, but never appeared in a regular season game.
The NBA had a similar situation in 2008-09, when Greg Oden, the top choice in 2007, returned after missing an entire year with a knee injury but Derrick Rose, the 2008 No. 1 pick, won rookie of year.
When reminded that David Robinson and Larry Bird also won the award in the season that was different from the year in which they were drafted, Grunfeld responded by mentioning that Bird was still in college when Boston boldly chose him sixth in 1978 when Bird had never declared for the draft and had just completed his junior year at Indiana State. Robinson was taken first overall in 1987 but had to fulfill two years of naval duty before playing for the Spurs.
Grunfeld said the difference was that Griffin actually spent a year in an NBA environment before making his debut in a regular season game. “Last year, I think Blake did play in a couple of preseason games and he traveled with his team, so he got a feel first. But that’s the rule, and he was deserving, obviously. He had a tremendous year. I thought John had a terrific year, also.”