Utah Jazz: Is Griffin the next Mailman or Boozer?

Published: Saturday, June 20 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

The easy route in the name game is to play up the fact the Jazz are working out a certain University of Oklahoma forward named Griffin today.

Because they are.

Only it's Taylor Griffin, who had a respectable college career in his own right — but doesn't quite live up in hype to that generated by his younger brother Blake Griffin, the widely anticipated pick when the Los Angeles Clippers select No. 1 overall in Thursday night's NBA Draft.

The much more challenging move, however, is debating just whose name Blake Griffin will live up to.

A few are being bandied about in NBA circles these days, and two in particular have rather meaningful ties to the Jazz.

Both have become synonymous with the power forward position in Utah, past and present.

One is retired. The other may or may not be back next season.

Karl Malone? Carlos Boozer?

Who does Griffin — Blake, not Taylor, a more athletic but shorter and supposedly less-talented second-round hopeful — most closely resemble?

Opinions vary from the pundits, as well as those in the know.

Some say Malone, who is bound for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Some say Boozer, a two-time NBA All-Star and prospective free agent should he opt out of his current contract with the Jazz by the end of this month.

And then there's Jazz player personnel vice president Walt Perrin, who safely hedges his bet.

"I would say he's a combination of both (Malone and Boozer)," Perrin said. "And I hate to put it that way. But that's the way it is."

At Oklahoma, Perrin suggested, coaches linked Griffin's game to that of Boozer's.

They even asked the Jazz, at the end of last season, for footage of Boozer playing in Utah — presumably, so Griffin could develop and even emulate some of his post moves.

The leap to Malone, though, isn't much of a stretch for the likes of ESPN radio-show host and TV analyst Doug Gottlieb.

The take from Gottlieb, who played professionally overseas, at Oklahoma State from 1997-2000 and at Notre Dame in the mid-1990s: "Best case: a more athletic Karl Malone."

Former NBA head coach Bob Hill, who has been working out Griffin and other draft prospects, generally concurs.

"Blake's starting point is so high, as long as the guy stays healthy, he's going to be a monster," Hill, who coached four different teams in the league, told the New York Daily News.

"I don't like to make comparisons," he added. "But he's a Karl Malone-type and he's taller than Karl. In sneakers, he's measured over 6-10 and that makes for a huge difference. I don't want to say he's going to be better than Karl Malone because that's crazy. But he has a chance to be that kind of player. He's in that category. I was a little surprised to see that he's a lot more skilled than he showed in college."

NBADraft.net and the Boston Globe both make the Malone comparison as well, while DraftExpress.com — not nearly so generous — goes with pre-injuries Antonio McDyess in a best-case scenario and David Lee as the worst-case one.

And even some of Gottlieb's own ESPN colleagues rebut the Malone suggestion.

The Web site's "similarities" line on Griffin is "Boozer meets (Phoenix All-Star Amare) Stoudemire," and according to ESPNInsider.com, "a better comparison" than Malone "may be Boozer."

ESPNInsider's case, beyond the suggestion that Griffin will come into the league with the same perceived flaw — can't shoot — that Boozer did:

"(Boozer's) numbers during his rookie season were good but not stellar (10 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game), then jumped to 15.5/11.4 when LeBron James arrived (in Cleveland).

"In Utah, he's played with a superior point guard in Deron Williams and some good outside shooters. If the Baron Davis/Griffin on-court dynamic can blossom and Al Thornton and Eric Gordon continue to develop as scoring options for the (Clippers), Griffin could post Boozer-esque numbers across his first two seasons."

Perrin, however, doesn't feel Griffin should be tied for now exclusively to Boozer. "Because he has the ability to really run the court like (Malone)," the Jazz scout said.

"I think he dominates offensively like both; I think he dominates rebounding like both," Perrin added. "And I think he's a ball-handler in the same vein as Karl — but a better ball-handler than both."

E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS