One year after the Los Angeles Clippers gave him a max contract and said he was a Clippers for life, ten months after the Clippers then traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons shocking the NBA, the Motor City power forward is having a dominant start to the season. Only Steph Curry has been better.
Griffin who has never been known to carry a team with his offense is doing just that. He is averaging a career high in points, 28.1. It is 4 points higher than his previous high of 24.1 in 2013-14. He’s adding 11.3 rebounds. The last time he was in double digit rebounding Blake was 22 years old. He’s draining 42% of his threes and is taking a career high 6 threes per game. His offensive rating is a career high 115. The numbers look gaudy and necessary. Lacking multiple offensive stars they can count on, the Pistons desperately need every point Griffin is giving them.
His 3rd game of the season, Blake Griffin was sensational dropping 50 on the 76ers. He made 57% of his 35 shots and 50% of his 10 threes. Plus he was tough with 14 boards and only had one turnover. Two games later though he was awful. 13 shots and he only made 2. He missed all his threes. He only had 6 rebounds and 7 points. It was a reminder of the Blake Griffin bio suffocating the Blake Griffin romance. He has never been able to fulfill the expectations of mega star. He has good nights. He has disappearing nights.
This season in the early stages he has been a max player, a face of the franchise. Everything is going right for Griffin and the Pistons have been what many expect, hovering around average which isn’t Blake’s fault. It’s not a contending roster by any means.
Blake will always be remembered as part of the CP3-DeAndre Jordan-Blake trio that sensationalized Lob City and created a cottage industry of Blake Griffin haters who tried to punk him on the court with cheap shots. In L.A. Blake failed in late game heroics and conceded to Chris Paul to win it or lose it. He never could rise above Paul’s aggressive instincts at the end of games. Paul and Griffin weren’t a Kobe-Shaq one-two punch as much they were Blake being silent when Chris was being Chris. Griffin’s passivity only made the situation feel as if it was Paul and his minions out there trying to do battle. When Griffin was traded, it wasn’t a stupid thing to ask if Griffin would miss Chris Paul forever.
He misses him but not for his game. Blake Griffin’s game is doing just fine thank you very much, though his midrange shot is hovering around the 39% mark. The Pistons need a talented point guard. Reggie Jackson can’t carry you through the playoffs. Jackson is being himself, 35% and 31% from three. He takes bad shots, is a mediocre offensive organizer and isn’t as good as he thinks he is. Griffin is averaging more assists than Jackson but Jackson has an innate compulsion to hijack the offense. He writes a check his game can’t cash. It’s something the Pistons are going to have to make a decision about. They’ve offered Jackson up before but no takers and it’s clear as to why.
Dwane Casey is rejuvenating the versatility that Griffin has always had as part of his overall package. He has given Griffin the reins to work the ball inside and out. He has gently guided Griffin into a three point mania in order to stretch the offense, which only makes Andre Drummond more effective.
The other Pistons aren’t anything special and so Blake is in a position he hasn’t been in since pre-Chris Paul. Carry the team night in and night off. Take all the credit and shoulder all the blame. Prepare for everything to come down to what you do in the last few minutes. This is the biggest challenge of Griffin’s career and the best part of his career because he doesn’t have to accommodate another scorer. He can pass, rebound, score, drive and dish. He is the sun. Everything revolves around him.
For better or worse.