Clippers’ Blake Griffin: Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop


Just a year ago, fans were subjected to what turned out to be Blake Griffin‘s coasting — he scaled back on the dunk attempts and was launching mid-range jumpers at a rate unprecedented in his somewhat short NBA career. But secretly, Griffin was attempting to figure out a balance to improve his play for the greater good of the team, a good we saw come alive in the playoffs when Blake finished with averages of 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game, a.k.a prime Oscar Robertson.

It was the debut of a polished, elite forward, combining several elements and an improved mindsets to match the body that had once outshone the brain, and the show has carried over into the regular season where Griffin is stamping himself as a bonafide top-10 talent in the NBA, aside the likes of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard. Against an interesting collective of bigs in Sacramento, Blake finished with 33 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists; against an underwhelming collective of bigs in Dallas (it pains me to say this about Dirk but he’s awful on defense these days), Griffin finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 assists.

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It’ the ease that makes it awe-inspiring, and it allows room for imagination because you know Griffin can be better if he chooses to — on my end, it doesn’t look like the Clippers have put a great ton of effort into these first two games, which says a lot about their talent level of a whole and the talent level of the first two foes.

It’s the mid-range shooting, and the unconscious effort behind the decisions, making the act seem natural, as  opposed to last season when he made a controlled effort to be the player he’s worked on being for years — in the two games combined, Blake is shooting 50% from mid-range, per NBA Stats, on 20 total attempts.

It’s the concentrated effort on the defensive end, the lone area of his game that could use grand improvement — the shift in Doc Rivers‘ defensive philosophy may have a hand in this, as the newest scheme requires less of Griffin to do things he may not be mentally prepared to pull off every possession down the floor.

It’s the putting pressure on defenses in transition in ways we often only see LeBron James do.

Albeit too soon on our ends because we as NBA fans can’t seem to contain ourselves when a young player enters the league displaying talent that bodes for potential greatness, this is how things were expected to pan out when Chris Paul arrived in 2012, with Paul being the general and Griffin being a kill-all drone. Up until this season, Paul was the clear best player on the team, and while the question can still be toggled back and forth between the two, Griffin is, day-by-day and dating back to the playoffs, making the case for it to be a one-sided affair.

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If what’s going on through these two games (reminder: anything under 20 games can almost always be graded as a small sample size, so take everything happening now with a grain of salt) can continue throughout the season, we’ll be asking if Griffin is the league’s MVP, or a candidate as he competes with the likes of Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, and the Oklahoma City Thunder duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Coming into the season I pegged Griffin one of the best picks for the award, if only because he’s a near-perfect candidate when factoring in talent, production, and the Clippers’ chances of being near top of the league in wins by season’s end. But this wasn’t what was expected, because last season he spent the majority of the early parts coasting.

But now? Enjoy the package. Because barring injury, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.