The Evolution Of Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin is definitely a specimen of a basketball player. Generously listed as 6’10”, he is one of the most explosive leapers in the NBA. And he has been known to posterize players. Who can forget what he famously did to center Timofey Mozgov in 2010:
All the highlight dunks were extremely exciting to watch, but they just were not enough. Blake and the Clippers have rode the Lob City moniker to through the regular season the last couple of years only to falter in the playoffs. Star point guard Chris Paul seemed to be the only consistent player on the court in the postseason, while Griffin and center Deandre Griffin became non-factors due their limited offense. And because of this fatal offensive flaw, some wondered what the future of this team had in store. But with a new coach and a new system, Blake may has definitely taken his game to the next level.
Once Doc Rivers stepped in as coach in Los Angeles, he began to construct this team in the image of what he felt they needed to be. He convinced Deandre Jordan to focus on being a great defender. Rivers told Chris Paul that he needed him to be more aggressive offensively and shoot the ball more. But his best bit of coaching was the things he told Blake Griffin he needed to work on. As previously mentioned, Blake has been more of a premier dunker than post player in the NBA for most of his career. But when Doc came in, he challenged Blake to become a better jump shooter. For the first few years of Blake’s career, he shot 32.5% and 27.7% respectively from 10-15 foot range. This year, he is shooting a career-high 40% from that range. In the past, Blake had awful form when shooting the jump shot. He would shoot the ball on the way down, have his elbow in odd positions and shoot with an uneven base. But this year, his form has really improved as evidence here:
Notice that Blake is on balance when he shoots this fadeaway jump shot. He also takes the time to gather himself and square his shoulders coupled with shooting the jump shot at the peak of his jump instead of on the way down. Here is another view of Blake’s improved jump shot:
Blake takes his jump shot out even further in this clip and again shows balance, perfect form, shoots at the peak of his jump and gathers himself before going up. This improvement makes Blake more dangerous and in turn helps the Clipper offense function better than before.
Another request from Doc Rivers was for Blake to be more of a playmaker. Most of his professional career, Blake has been a finisher at the rim and not a facilitator. Ultimately, that approach caused a ton of pressure on Chris Paul to do everything for the Clippers. But Rivers saw something in Blake that many had not seen. He saw the ability for him to not only be a finisher but a playmaker. Many times you would see Blake get a rebound, dish it to Paul or another guard for Los Angeles and run the floor. But this year, Blake has taken action into his own hands:
Doc Rivers has taken more to running the offense through Griffin this season and as a result, it has led to the growth in his game. He can be seen now setting up guards for big shots or, of course, throwing up the lobs to Deandre Jordan. He even has taken the liberty of gathering the rebound and pushing the tempo to set up his teammates for easy baskets. This Blake is a far better offensive player than the Blake we saw last season. The confidence in Blake to be a playmaker also helped the Clippers sustain while Chris Paul was out with a shoulder injury.
These two improvements in Blake’s game have made the Clippers a very dangerous team in the West. And this also speaks to the power of Doc Rivers, who has taken the talent that Blake has and fine-tuned his game a little more this year. Blake will undoubtedly get better as he goes along. He still has to improve at the free throw line and his defense still is coming along. But there is no doubt that with the skills and ability he has, he could be the most dominant power forward in basketball very soon.
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