A Grammy for Blake Griffin
USA Today Sports
The Grammys are on Sunday, as the entertainment industry continues their blitz through award season, priming and primping for the Oscars in March. With the Grammys being held in the Staples Center, the Clippers and the Lakers have set out on seven-game road trips across the east coast.
For the Clippers, this is their second seven-game road trip of the season, but while they went 4-3 on their previous trip, this time around they are without their floor general Chris Paul, who suffered a shoulder injury on Jan 3 against the Dallas Mavericks. For any team, it would be expected for them to struggle when a player of high caliber like Paul sits with an injury – imagine the Knicks without Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder without Kevin Durant, the Warriors without Steph Curry – but the Clippers have gone 7-3 in his absence, which is just around their winning percentage of 65.7 percent before Paul was hurt.
Who has been helping stoking the coals for the Clippers? The award for best performance by a player in a supporting role goes to Blake Griffin, for his performance is support of Chris Paul during the 2013-14 season.
What has Griffin done since Chris Paul went out? Oh, you know, just taken a bigger role on offense. Check out these numbers.
Yeah, whoa. We’re impressed too, former Lakers fans.
Those are the kind of numbers you write home about. He’s treating defenses like a snowblower running through a field of powdered sugar.
While he’s not scoring at the same level as the “Slim Reaper,” the harbinger of points that Kevin Durant has become, the Clippers offense is humming while Griffin is on the court.
It’s a testament to the basketball ability that Griffin has brought with him into the NBA. Griffin wasn’t always a power forward – he learned how to play the game as a guard, and then his body leveled up like an Autobot and he became the Red Hulk that we know today. Those guard-skills have been evident with the offense relying on Griffin. He has the freedom to dribble the ball up the court after a rebound and initiate the offense. He can face up his defender on the perimeter and beat him to the basket off the dribble. He can be fed the ball in the post and use his agility, quickness, and footwork to create space. He can fake a pass while sprinting with the ball in transition and then elevate for a high percentage throw-the-ball-through-the-rim-with-no-regard-for-human-life shot. He can send touch passes to his pal DeAndre in the post in a lethal 4-5 combination.
Shot chart courtesy of nbawowy.com/
Griffin is still getting his attempts at the rim, and his improved ability to knock down jumpers that he has shown this season hasn’t gone away either. It’s not just dunks for Griffin anymore, although those haven’t gone away yet. He’s making an effort to get to the free throw line, where he is shooting a career-best 71.2%. His ability to help his teammates and keep the offense going has been impressive (Hubie Brown voice). His averages of 24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, on 50% shooting aren’t numbers to sneeze at. Only three players in the history of the league have had seasons with those averages – Larry Bird (1984-85, 86-87, 87-88), Charles Barkley (1992-93), and LeBron James (2012-13). Not a bad group to be a part of, although they’d be terrible on the golf course – except for Larry, who’s great at everything.
While Chris Paul indisputably helps the Clippers be a better team, Griffin has risen to the challenge and helped his team stay in contention at the top of the Western Conference. Yes, LaMarcus Aldridge will get MVP chants at the Rose Garden. Kevin Durant is putting up Space Jam numbers with Westbrook sidelined. LeBron James is “coasting” through the holidays, much like a F-16 lazily cruises before delivering a payload of missiles on an unsuspecting target. Carmelo Anthony is setting scoring records at the most famous basketball arena in the world.
But Blake Griffin, he’s looking amazing away from the red carpet, and that counts for something too.
Statistical support for this article came from basketball-reference.com, NBA.com/stats, nbawowy.com, and a pigeon that gave its final moments in life to deliver valuable information. Kidding about the pigeon, just checking if y’all read this far.