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Blake Griffin: 5 Biggest Holes in L.A. Clippers Star's Game

Ehran KhanContributor IIIJuly 19, 2016

Blake Griffin: 5 Biggest Holes in L.A. Clippers Star's Game

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    There aren't many players who have risen through the NBA ranks as fast as Blake Griffin has.

    In 2011, Griffin became the first rookie to be selected as an All-Star since Yao Ming in 2003, and the first to do so without the backing of a billion Chinese votes since Tim Duncan way back in 1998.

    As an encore, Griffin was an All-Star starter in his second season and was also named Second Team All-NBA. 

    It's clear that Griffin has already established himself as one of the best players in the league, but it's scary to think just how good he can be if he ever puts it all together.

    Here are five things Griffin must improve if he wants to reach his true potential.

1. Free-Throw Shooting

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    Shooting free throws has so far been the greatest flaw in Blake Griffin's game.

    I honestly believed that Griffin would improve on his 64 percent free-throw shooting as a rookie, especially given the 70 percent clip he converted at post-All Star break in 2011.

    Not only did Griffin not show any improvement, he actually took a huge step backward in his second season, shooting a miserable 52 percent at the foul line.

    Griffin's free-throw woes are compounded by the fact that teams can somewhat neutralize the best facet of his game—attacking the rim—by sending him to the line to earn the two points rather than letting him dunk all over them.

    As a result, Griffin becomes very tentative during crunch time, not driving hard to the basket in order to avoid trips to the stripe. 

    Blake must improve dramatically in this area, especially since he takes 30 percent of all Clippers free throws.

2. Jump Shooting

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    Teams are inviting Blake Griffin to take jump shots by simply ignoring him when he has the ball 15 feet from the basket and beyond.

    Griffin has to prove to teams that he has the ability to confidently knock down a decent number of those open shots in order for defenders to play up on him and create more driving lanes to attack.

    The fact that Griffin showed significant improvement between his first and second year in hitting outside shots is a huge positive.

    Griffin went from knocking down 33 percent of his long twos (16-23 feet from the hoop) in 2011 to hitting 37 percent of them in 2012.

3. Post Game

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    Thus far in his career, Blake Griffin has only displayed one go-to move in the post. He backs his man down, then quickly spins over his left shoulder and tries a short bank shot.

    While Griffin's athleticism allows him to get decent looks at the basket with this shot, opponents now know it is coming and are defending it better.

    Griffin must broaden his low-post repertoire and work on implementing a consistent jump hook with either hand and also a counter-move like an up-and-under to go with it. 

    If he can become a scoring force with his back to the basket, it will add another dimension to his game.

4. Individual Defense

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    A lack of height and relatively short arms make it difficult for Blake Griffin to match up with opponents who hold a size advantage over him.

    Last season, Griffin's defense was porous against opposing centers, giving up a PER of 16.2 to 5s. He fared slightly better against 4s, limiting opposing power forwards to a 13.7 PER against him.

5. Shot Blocking

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    It absolutely baffles me that despite his overwhelming athleticism, Blake Griffin makes almost no impact on the game as a shot blocker.

    Griffin hasn't averaged even one block per game in either of his two pro seasons. Other players of similar size and leaping ability—such as Serge Ibaka—excel at swatting away shots around the rim.

    Perhaps the problem is he lacks proper timing, but if Griffin can gain the reputation of a rim protector, it would go a long way toward deterring potential shots at the rim by opponents.

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