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Blake Griffin goes to summer school

Clippers' top pick will work on his game in Las Vegas league. His work ethic doesn't need any help.

July 11, 2009|Lisa Dillman

First, some housekeeping duties were in order for the youthful Clippers before they mobilized for the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, and their first game Monday against the Lakers.

There was the matter of gathering for their first practice Friday, at the team's facility in Playa Vista, a chance for a full session under the direction of Coach Mike Dunleavy and summer league head coach Kim Hughes.

Not that prized No. 1 overall draft pick Blake Griffin needed to get acquainted. The Clippers might as well give him the keys to the place and let him turn on the lights.

So Griffin wasn't kidding when he said in New York at the NBA draft that he couldn't wait to get to work. He has been spending so much time at the Playa Vista facility, two-a-days nearly every day, Griffin could practically establish living quarters there.

That's a stretch . . . but not much of one.

He did take time to lease a place in the area, surviving L.A. sticker shock.

"It's about what I expected," Griffin said. "I don't think my apartment in college cost this much. You get what you pay for, I guess."

And in that regard, the Clippers are pleased with what they are seeing from him. They haven't seen a rookie, much less a highly touted one, work so hard so early.

To that end, his shot, which had been shaky in his workout for the team and the gathered national media during the NBA Finals, has improved.

"That's something we've been working on, shooting on the way up for my jumper, and really extending that every time and finishing as I'm going up," Griffin said. "I feel I'm shooting a lot better than I did in the workout. I've just got to keep working on it.

"It feels really good. I've had a lot of great shooting days since I've been out here, just on different drills. I just want to keep progressing."

Dunleavy agreed that Griffin's shot looked better, and smoother than last month. Dunleavy was asked what he expected of Griffin in the Summer League games.

"The areas that we'll be looking to see where he is at right now is defensively," Dunleavy said. "How many positions can he guard? I've been really impressed with his ballhandling and passing. That skill level is very high for a power forward, to the point where at times I've said, 'Wow can he play some small forward,' with his ability to put the ball on the floor and make passes."

Griffin will be joined in Las Vegas by the three Clippers rookies from last season, Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan and Mike Taylor. The Clippers play five games in the Summer League, and of special note for Griffin will be the one against Memphis and No. 2 pick Hasheem Thabeet on Thursday, and against the Suns and his older brother and Oklahoma teammate Taylor Griffin on July 19.

Separately, there was progress on the trade front. The Grizzlies, as expected, waived Jerry Stackhouse one day after their involvement in a four-team, eight-player trade. That means the Clippers' deal with Memphis, which sent Zach Randolph to the Grizzlies for Quentin Richardson, will be official in a week.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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