The Blake Griffin Enigma

It all started one night this week during a Clippers game, rather the year after Griffin’s rookie year, when players finally said you aren’t dunking on us. Teams started fouling Griffin and fouling him hard, next you had guys like TNT’s Charles Barkley saying Griffin needs to “knock the hell out of one of these guys” and from there the internet and fringe basketball fans ran with it. Now you have people questioning Griffins lack of perceived toughness, and this season has gotten worse with the comments Matt Barnes made after he came to the aid of Blake Griffin when him and Serge Ibaka almost got into it.

Now instead of talking about all the good that Blake Griffin does, time is spent talking about this silly narrative that Blake Griffin is “soft”. Griffin is a very good rebounder, he runs the floor better than most bigs, he’s a very good passer, an excellent ball handler, and he has a good post game.

For his career Griffin averages 10.4 rebounds per game, a very solid number, and he has a 17.1% TRB%(True Rebound Percentage). Prior to last season (when he pulled down just 8.3 rebounds), Griffin has always been a plus 10 guy in his short career and even that feels a little weird when you consider he had 15.2% TRB%. The answer lies in the fact that Blake only played 32 minutes per game, the lowest of his short NBA career. His per 36 minutes rebounds per game is back up to 10.2, a much more respectable number.

This is surely public knowledge, but Blake runs the floor better than most big men. In fact, his pairing with DeAndre Jordan makes them arguably the best running front court in the NBA. Blake running the floor so hard helps create mismatches and opens up things for Chris Paul and the shooters on the wing. It sounds so simple but it’s alarming seeing how many athletic big man fail to run the floor on a consistent basis.

Perhaps the most overlooked part of Griffin’s game has to be his passing ability. Griffin has always been a good passer since coming into the league but a vast majority of people fail to realize this for whatever reason. This season Griffin is averaging 3.1 assist per game and for his career it’s at 3.8, a really good number that would place him fourth in assists per game for a big. Leaving only DeMarcus Cousins, Tim Duncan, and Joakim Noah ahead of him. Griffin is ahead of peers with big time reputations as passers such as Pau Gasol and Spencer Hawes.

Blake is also one of the better ball handling bigs in the NBA, something we’ve seen numerous times with Griffin is him grab a rebound and take it coast to coast, like this:


Or the countless other videos you can find on Youtube.

Lastly, the most frustrating thing said about Griffin is that he lacks a post game. This horrible premise couldn’t be further from the truth, Griffin does in fact have a post game. Is it the prettiest or most polished like Kevin McHale? No, but it is efficient hence one of the reasons Griffin is shooting 63% at the rim, a large percentage of this doesn’t include dunks. Let’s take a look at a play Griffin has on the post:


Here you see Griffin turn and face, jab step, half spin one way, come back pump fake, and score if that’s not a post move, what is? Again it’s not always the prettiest but it’s efficient and at the end of the day that’s all anyone can ask for.

Blake is far from a perfect NBA player but what he is and the perception of what he is are two completely different things and that really needs to change sooner than later.

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