Stat of the Day: Blake Griffin is KILLING from mid-range in January


Since the turn of the year, Blake Griffin‘s accuracy from mid-range has been praise worthy.

Per NBA Stats’ shot location database, Griffin has knocked down 40 of 84 attempts from mid-range, or 47.6% of his attempts. In terms of volume, only four players (LaMarcus Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki, John Wall, David West) have attempted more attempts from this area since January 1st and to deliver perspective on how efficient Griffin has been from the area, of those four players, only Nowitzki (103 — 48.5%) and West (85 — 48.2%) have shot better.

Shooting anywhere in the same ballpark as Dirk Nowitzki — a player I believe is the best mid-range shooter in league history — is a compliment and a testament to how well Blake has worked to improve his jump shot, but the Big German isn’t the only notable contemporary that Blake has out-shot from midrange; the list includes Chris Bosh (MIA), Marc Gasol (MEM), Kevin Durant (OKC), Tony Parker (SAS), and teammates Chris Paul and J.J. Redick, both of whom are two of the best mid-range shooters at their respective positions.

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While Griffin’s shot improving is the nut-graf, the most important development has been the balance found between attacking the rim and attacking from the inside. Early in the season, Griffin often fell into the trap of the defense, settling for jump shots instead of attacking down low.

In the month of November, 42.7% of Griffin’s attempts came from mid-range while 34.9% came from the restricted area, or a 7.8 percent gap. In December, the gap grew to 9 percent, with 46.6% of his total attempts coming from mid-range while 37.6% came from the restricted area. Twenty-six days into the month of January and he’s stumbled upon the perfect balance for a finisher of his caliber and improving shooter, with a 2.9% gap between overall mid-range attempts and restricted area attempts — as an observer who believes the mid-range weapon is a better addition for Griffin than upgrading his already-good low-post game, you can’t ask for better stability in his shot selection.

The onslaught of criticism Griffin received throughout the early part of the season because of his increase in mid-range attempts was fair. In previous years, Griffin made an impact by attacking the paint or deceiving opponents to believe he’d do so, hitting his teammates in stride at the three-point line (or DAJ around the basket) or when cutting after the defense collapsed following a pick-and-roll. Falling in love with his new-found “weapon”, Griffin often shied away from that process, hurting both himself and teammates, but as the season has progressed, he’s getting back to prodding the defense, drawing attention away from himself, as witnessed by the career-high 4.9 assists per game.

A 26-day sample isn’t enough to say Griffin has cemented himself a Kevin Garnett-like mid-range shooter, but it’s been deadly enough to warrant a deeper dig into how he’s shot the ball in 2015. This is what Griffin wanted and regardless of how we felt about his approach to the game, this transition into a part-time shooter was going to happen, as seen by the volume barrage from early in the season. Fortunately for Griffin, he’s improving at the task which is a good sign for the Clippers and a bad sign for the rest of the NBA.