Blake Griffin: 5 Areas the LA Clippers Forward Still Needs to Improve On
Yet he is only beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. Where the roof is on this guy, nobody can possibly know; however, I'm betting he jumps right through it.
The Clippers franchise is not a likely destination to attract top-flight free agents. Therefore, if they're going to contend for a title in the next few years, it's got to be on the broad shoulders of Blake Griffin. And as dominant as he has been, he's got to become even more dominant. He will need to improve upon his strengths, and fix his weaknesses before opponents find and exploit them.
In this article, five areas where Blake must improve have been laid out and dissected.
However, if there's one thing I've learned about Blake Griffin, it's that he is his own biggest critic. I'm sure he's well aware of all his weaknesses, and is in the gym working on them as I type these words.
Blake Griffin averaged only 0.5 bpg this past season.
By comparison, point guard Baron Davis averaged 0.5 in nine less minutes than Blake.
You can't have that from your high-flying, gravity-defying beast of a power forward.
The reason for Blake's lack of shots blocked is hard to pinpoint.
We know it's not a lack of athleticism. We know it's not a lack of hustle (his 3.3 orpg disproves that), and I doubt it has anything to do with a lack of technical skill.
Part of the problem may be his surprisingly minimal wingspan for a man of his size. Blake stands at 6'10", and his wingspan is the same. By comparison, teammate DeAndre Jordan, at 7'0", has a wingspan of 7'9". That's almost a full foot in difference.
Not coincidentally, DJ also blocked 1.78 shots per game in nine less minutes than Blake.
One other factor may simply be an issue of timing.
In the NFL, you hear rookies often stating that the most difficult part of the transition is dealing with the increased speed of the game.
You don't often hear this coming from NBA players, but from those I've talked to, it is an issue.
As a whole, NBA players, as compared to college players, are bigger, faster and stronger; they jump more quickly and with greater elevation.
This may explain why Blake averaged 1.3 bpg his senior year in college, in only 33 minutes, as compared to 0.5 bpg in 38 minutes as a pro.
Mid-Range Jump Shot
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Fifty-seven percent of Blake Griffin's shots came in the paint during his rookie season, and he made 68 percent of them. However, he took 41 percent of his shots from mid-range, making only 41 percent of them, and he took two percent from three-point range, making only 29 percent.
Most of the time Blake shot from outside the paint, it would be a bank shot from the left side of the floor, and typically, it'd be a set shot.
For this reason, most defenders sagged down on him to prevent dribble penetration. If he did decide to launch it from outside, his shot took so long to develop that the defender could usually recover in enough time to bother the shot.
If Blake can develop a mid-range jumper and force defenders to guard him on the perimeter, he will be indefensible.
Secondary Post Move
If Blake Griffin wants to beat you inside, chances are he's going to back you down and dunk on your head.
As the year wore on, defenders learned this and began fouling him very hard anytime he left his feet.
Therefore, Blake started using his spin move much more frequently. Blake would back down the defender with a dribble or two, and once he had them off balance he'd spin hard over his left shoulder to create a lay-up for himself.
However, the more he used this move, the more defenders started forcing him to his left and into this move, making sure they were ready for it by having another defender to jump that move with a double team before he could complete his spin.
This resulted in more frequent turnovers.
With defenses on to his spin move, Blake needs a complementary move.
A fake spin followed by a right handed hook shot would work nicely. He could back down his defender, then take one dribble and fake that hard spin. Then, as the second defender is jumping it, he could bring it back right, and go up for the right-handed hook shot.
Kareem, Kevin McHale and Karl Malone made a career out of having one great post-move and one counter-move and they were three of the greatest. If Blake can master this move, or another complementary move, AND improve his mid-range jumper, he instantly becomes a 30 ppg guy.
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As mentioned, once Blake's posterizing dunks became a thing of legend, teams started to hack him whenever he got the ball deep in the post and tried to leave his feet.
Given that he made 68 percent of his low-post shots, as compared to only 64 percent of his free throws, this was a good idea.
If he can get up into the 75 percent range, this will no longer be a good option for defenses.
Plus, as Blake improves from the line, his mid-range shot should improve as well.
I expect Blake is spending quite a bit of time, this offseason, working on his shot.
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If you're reading this article, there's a good chance that you were in agreement with me up until this point.
I can hear my readers now, What are you talking about? Blake is a great leader.
Well, likely so. However, this past season, he often took a backseat to Baron Davis, and later in the year, Chris Kaman.
As a rookie, it's understandable why he did so; Blake didn't want to step on any toes.
However, this season, it's obvious that this is Blake's team. Blake needs to take control of that locker-room, and get everyone on the team working as hard as he does.
If Blake can motivate his guys and get them all to work and play as hard as him, this team will compete for a title sooner, rather than later.
The talent is there, and much like the way Larry Bird came into the league and completely turned around the Boston Celtics, Blake Griffin can turn around the Clippers.
The man was a born leader; this year, he needs to step up into that role.