In just his one NBA season, LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin won the dunk contest in dramatic fashion, won Rookie of the Year and became the first rookie All-Star since Yao Ming in 2003. Now that his professional ping pong career is over, the 22-year-old wants a lot more from basketball this year, including a spot in the playoffs. When he was done making Subway sandwiches for customers -- his favorite is the oven roasted chicken breast with pickles and lettuce, among others -- Griffin caught up with The Huffington Post to talk about those aspirations.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
I think this is a big year for us in terms of having everybody healthy at the start of the season. A lot of our guys are in shape and look good. I'm excited about getting off to a good start. Sixty-six games is a lot of games in a shortened time and hopefully our youth helps us with that. We're looking to make a playoff push.
Why this year? Why is this team different?
The guys that we have to start the season with are solid. We played with most of that group all of last year. At times last year we were starting two-year guys. It will be good to have some experience in there.
What did you spend most time on during your offseason?
Becoming more of a confident shooter; getting up a lot of shots, shots in game situations. It helps having a year under my belt and knowing where my shots come from within the offense and knowing what I do and don't need to do. I watched a lot of film. I'm looking to be a better leader this year.
What is a typical day for you in that offseason? What have you learned about your eating habits?
For me, I like to get up and get my workouts done and make sure that's a priority for me. Every morning, I hit the gym, get my basketball work done and then do strength and conditioning. Making sure I pace myself and eat right. Making sure every day I'm trying to get better.
What does a scoring point like Mo Williams [traded to LA last February] bring to this team?
I think with Mo it gives us a guy at the point guard spot that you can't leave alone. He's too good of a shooter and he can knock down that three with ease. With the team that we have, I think we have dangerous players at all five positions. We're excited to have Mo from beginning to end this year.
What would be a successful season to you?
Making the playoffs; that's our goal. I think it's tangible this year, and it's reasonable.
Can we expect any new dunks in your growing arsenal?
I kind of just take whatever the flow of the game gives me. Hopefully, something cool, but I can't make any promises.
Who are the teams to beat, both in the West and the East?
I think the Heat in the East are going to be very tough, but depending on what happens with free agency in New York, I see three teams for sure: Chicago, the Heat and New York. Obviously you have to worry about Boston, but I think the Heat are going to be tough with a full season of experience. Then in the West, it's always different. The Oklahoma City Thunder have really put together a nice team and are heading in the right direction. I think they could be one of the teams to beat. You know Dallas obviously had their year last year, and the Lakers are always good, but I think OKC is going to be right up there.
Who is your pick for Rookie of the Year?
I actually worked out quite a bit this summer and extended offseason with [former Arizona Wildcat and No. 2 pick] Derrick Williams. He's going to be tough man, very, very tough. I haven't got to see [No. 1 pick] Kyrie Irving play a lot during the summer, but I know he's tough from watching him in college. I think it will be a good race between those two.
How about the MVP race? Will you be in that mix this year?
[Laughs]. Man, I'm just worried about making the playoffs. Maybe all of that will come.
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