Clippers-Lakers: 5 moments that changed L.A.’s power balance

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December 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) moves the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers drafting Blake Griffin in 2009

He was unable to make an impact in what would have been his first season due to injury, but Blake Griffin exploded onto the scene as the Rookie of the Year in 2010-11.

At first, he was little more than a ridiculously explosive highlight reel. Griffin was an All-Star in his first season which is something very few NBA players can say, yet it was largely due to his athleticism. 17.6 percent of all his field goal attempts were dunks during his rookie season. As for his overall shot attempts, 40.8 percent came from within three feet.

As you can see, he played at the rim and not much elsewhere. To say he didn’t have range was certainly justified.

That being said, his averages of 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game that season were an indication of what he could become. At the very least, they indicated his remarkable physical gifts, instant impact, and immense potential.

Over the last few years, though, the ways in which Griffin has expanded his game are not only highly impressive, but extremely underrated. His ball handling is on a level above any other big man, his passing is exceptional either in transition or in half-court offense, his defense has improved in the post and by the perimeter, and his mid-range jumper has become a dangerous and reliable part of his game. In short, he’s a different player to the young, dunk-happy guy who entered the league in 2009.

Even though the Clippers still hadn’t turned the tide in terms of their talent compared to the Lakers when he first arrived (they only had 32 wins in his rookie year), Griffin’s arrival gave the Clippers a star who would soon partner with another.

Next: The Chris Paul trade