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The Hoop Doctors

Why the Los Angeles Clippers Need More from Blake Griffin

August 29, 2012 – Dan Favale

There’s plenty of deficiencies separating the Los Angeles Clippers from legitimate title contention, and one of them is Blake Griffin.

Though the young forward is a high-flying juggernaut, he can be underwhelming in many other facets of the game; perpetual dunking will only carry you, and your team, so far.

The presence of Chris Paul has helped keep the scrutiny of this reality to a minimum. His playmaking abilities often make Griffin seem like a stud on offense; his sheer presence has transformed the Clippers in a playoff team. Not Griffin’s.

But for Los Angeles to take that next step, that leap into title contention, it needs more from Griffin. Much more.

The Clippers watched with baited breath as Griffin went under the knife, but according to Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles, the athletically inclined forward is fully recovered and ready to go. So now, the real work must begin.

Paul or not Paul, the Clippers aren’t going to win any hardware with Griffin’s limited skill-set on offense. Rim-shattering accolades aside, he boasts an unbalanced post game and inconsistent jump shot. His ability to create his own offense outside the confines of Paul’s court-vision must improve as well.

You see, while Griffin puts up gaudy point totals, he’s still incredibly raw on that end of the ball. His decision-making is questionable and there’s nothing—except his freakishly tallied vertical leap—that truly scares defenders. There’s really only room for one offensively-restricted big man in Los Angeles’ starting lineup, and that slot is reserved for the even more limited talents of DeAndre Jordan.

No, Griffin is nowhere near as inept as Jordan, but his glaring weaknesses are ones that need to be corrected for the Clippers to succeed, especially after the Western Conference’s recent re-structure.

But it doesn’t stop there. Griffin needs to become more of a consistent presence on defense too. Currently, his timing is mediocre, his footwork can be sloppy and he doesn’t body up against the opposition nearly has much as he needs to. And that needs to change.

In a league that is now built on powerhouses, Griffin is one-third of an underwhelming superstar trio. Paul presents prolific two-way prowess, but both Griffin and Jordan are one-dimensional athletes, who thrive on opposite ends of the floor.

And while that one-dimensionality may be acceptable for a big man like Jordan who isn’t expected to score, it’s not one we can condone for Griffin. Not only do the Clippers need more from him, but we know he’s capable of giving them more. His physical gifts provide him with the tools to excel in all aspects of the game—it’s just a matter of honing of them.

And that needs to happen now, not later. After an embarrassing postseason display against the Spurs, the Clippers are closer to feigning a star-powered status instead of actualizing it. Though that’s not only on Griffin, he does have the potential to shift such a tide on his own.

If he can reach his two-way potential, his true two-way potential, then the Clippers have a shot at making some serious championship-related noise.

Should he continue down the path of situational stardom, though, Los Angeles doesn’t have a chance in hell at winning much of anything, let alone a championship or the luxury of re-signing Paul to a long term deal next summer.

And for that to change, Griffin needs to change. Now.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.


 

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