Through his first 30 games in 2015-16, Blake Griffin averaged 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5 dimes while shooting 50.8 percent from the field.
In a Christmas Day victory over the Lakers, Griffin partially tore his left quadriceps tendon. The Clippers big man missed a chunk of time, then another chunk of time after punching an assistant equipment manager, earning a fractured bone in his hand and a suspension to boot.
After missing four months, he suited up for six of the last seven regular-season games. Then, just as Griffin was rounding into form again, he aggravated his quad in Game 4 of the Clippers’ first-round playoff series against Portland. Griffin’s third injury of the year forced him to sit out the remainder of the series, which Los Angeles lost. In a September letter to the fans in the Player’s Tribune, Blake stated bluntly in a stand-alone paragraph, “Last season sucked.”
But fuck that noise. We’re talking about 2016-17, right? Through three exhibition games, BG is shooting 62 percent from the field. In an October 5 win over Toronto, Griffin shot 10-13 with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and an innovative new move (who throws a shoe? honestly!). He even made 2-3 from long range.
Haters will say it’s a preseason fluke, but Griffin has been working on his three-ball all offseason. He tells the OC Register:
“I want to be someone who shoots from there confidently, for sure. A lot of us power forwards, our strength is inside or our versatility. You look at the best power forwards, Anthony Davis, LaMarcus (Aldridge), Draymond (Green) … they can all shoot, but they can all put the ball on the floor and they can all score inside. I don’t necessarily think falling in love with the three-point shot is a good idea, but shooting it confidently from there is great.”
Not only is he extending his range, but Griffin is also reinforcing his inside game. Most notably, No. 32 learned a few post lessons from Kevin Garnett during Clippers practice. Back in late August, Blake hopped on JJ Redick’s podcast and discussed his grueling summer workouts, saying, “I didn’t deserve a summer break.” The work paid off: Griffin’s explosiveness is back, as evidenced by a cat-quick baseline spin to a one-handed reverse jam in an October 10 loss to Utah.
With CP3 at the helm, Blake as his first mate, and a still-wavy supporting cast of Redick, DeAndre Jordan, J Crossover and The Truth in tow, this Clipper ship has a chance. Regardless of the team’s record, 27-year-old Griffin is primed for a savage individual year, barring injury.
Lil Wayne opens Tha Carter II by saying, “So they ask me, ‘Young Boy, what you gonna do the second time around? How you gon’ come back?’ I tried told them, I come back like 32.”
After an injury-ridden ’15-16, my money is on No. 32 entering the ’16-17 regular season the same way he attacks the rim: He’s going to fly in.
BLAKE GRIFFIN SLAM TOP 50 HISTORY
|SLAM Top 50 Players 2016|
Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2016-17—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.
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