30-for-30: Blake Griffin, 3-Point Shooter?

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There’s glowing feel during the off-season, training camp, and preseason that can’t be recreated during any other time of the year. Not only is everyone spewing optimism — whether worth or not — but this is time of the year where players get to show off their fancy new tricks.

For the Clippers, that shiny new object is a Blake Griffin corner-three, a shot the forward says he’s been working on in training camp.

This ‘addition’ comes as shock to none. As offense continue to key in on spacing as a primary factor, bigs who spread the floor have grown in importance as they open the floor up for their teammates to operate. We’ve seen it with several big men over the last few years: Thaddeus Young, Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Paul Millsap, etc.

And while an added corner-three would make Blake Griffin a bigger threat than usual, Seth Partnow of Fancy Stats, a Washington Post blog, sees it unlikely that Griffin’s becomes an actual threat:

"Additionally, even “stretch” big men don’t shoot many corner three-pointers. Kevin Love took 48 last season, Channing Frye 43 and Dirk Nowitzki took only nine all season. In fact, only six full-time big men (Anthony Tolliver, Andrew Nicholson, Patrick Patterson, Thaddeus Young, Chris Bosh and Mirza Teletovic) attempted 50 or more corner three-pointers, with only Tolliver and Nicholson, two of the least-powerful power forwards in the game, taking more than two per 36 minutes.This is unsurprising, again for reasons of court geometry. Big men stationed in the corner are positioned poorly to either crash the offensive glass or get back quickly on defense when a shot goes up."

Partnow’s point is on the mark.

Forcing your superstar power forward to stand in the corner during an offensive possession not only limits what he can do but the entire offense, especially one which operates heavy in the pick-and-roll.

Griffin is no stranger to the three-ball: last season, the All-NBA forward attempted 44 threes, the most in a season for his career. Of those 44 threes, 25 came above-the-break (16%) while 18 came from the corner (44%).

Of Griffin’s 19 corner-three attempts, they came in an assortment of ways, but majority came as a last second solution as the clock wound down. On one attempt, Griffin’s first make of the season, Rivers ran an interesting set which included a pin-down by DeAndre Jordan to get Griffin the open shot.

If Rivers buys into Griffin’s ‘new and improved’ jumper, we could see more of this particular set throughout the season.

But despite this new-found weapon, the Clippers, based on their offensive set-up, would better benefit from a big man becoming a near-elite corner 3 shooter if it was DeAndre Jordan who flashed the ability to knock down the open jumper. Not only would it clear the paint for a 4-out, 1-in offense, but it’d allow the Clippers to sustain the identity that led them to posting the top offensive rating last season. This is why Spencer Hawes was an interesting draw. Though he lacks the ability to cover for the Clippers when placed at the five, he and Blake Griffin fit well due to Hawes’ ability to hit the open jumper.

With the preseason just a few days away, this’ll be our first chance to see if Rivers features Blake’s newest weapon. There’s no better place to test it out than in meaningless exhibition games.