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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Blake Griffin's Evolution

Blake Griffin made a name for himself as a high-flying dunker, the centerpiece of the Los Angeles Clippers' "Lob City" offense that was more style than substance and that consistently fizzled in the postseason. As Griffin candidly admitted recently, "We were front-runners. When things were going great, the ball was hopping around. But when we felt resistance in games, we splintered."

A big part of the problem was that the Clippers had a divided locker room: Chris Paul--who is often labeled one of the best leaders in the sport, despite his inability to lead a team past the second round of the playoffs--was the loudest voice but he was not the team's best player and perhaps not even the team's most respected player. No wonder the team fell apart any time things became even a little difficult.

Now that Paul plays for Houston, Griffin's game can fully blossom and it is becoming evident that he is a complete player, not just an elite athlete. Griffin is a student of the game who is not only determined to broaden his skill set--witness his improved shooting from both the free throw line and from beyond the three point arc--but to also hone his mental approach to the game. According to a November 13, 2017 Sports Illustrated article by Lee Jenkins, Tim Duncan provided some sage advice to Blake Griffin: "The leader isn't the guy yelling the loudest or talking the most. It's the guy everybody looks at in the end and knows, 'I'm following him.'" Duncan, of course, was that kind of guy, a player who spoke softly but whose actions, demeanor and character established him as the unquestioned leader of San Antonio's five NBA championship teams.

Griffin must still prove that he can remain healthy and that his newly developed skills will not regress under playoff pressure but it will be fascinating to watch the second half of his career as he attempts to evolve from All-Star to elite player.

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posted by David Friedman @ 2:13 AM



At Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:34:00 PM, Blogger Awet M said...

Excellent article and I wholly agree.

But Duncan should've been a six time champion. I'll never forget that 2013 Finals.

At Sunday, November 12, 2017 10:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point taken about Paul, but small PGs rarely lead teams far in the playoffs unless they have amazing casts around and/or a down year, which apply to Thomas, Billups, Parker, and Curry. Only Thomas played like an MVPish player in the playoffs/finals, too.

Other than Griffin's FT shooting, which is only a slight improvement from last year and I wouldn't necessarily call a strength yet, though huge improvement from his rookie year, his supposed new 3-pt skill isn't all it's made out to be yet. While currently at .358 which isn't terrible, opposing defenses will gladly let Griffin camp out behind the arc while his super-athletic frame doesn't punish them in the paint. His FG % has fallen off dramatically, and his eFG % is a career low. His scoring average is only up a 1ppg from last year, and he's only had one year where he's rebounded worse than this year.

It's still early, but LAC has struggled with Griffin alone in charge. It looks like they're going to struggle to make the playoffs, though supposed juggernauts like CLE/OKC also would miss the playoffs if they started today, so who knows.


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