Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin Is The NBA’s Evolving Superstar

Feb 3, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) dunks the ball during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 116-115. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 3, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) dunks the ball during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 116-115. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /

While Blake Griffin takes Buzz Lightyear’s “to infinity and beyond” theme with every dunk he attempts, we are also reminded of his freakishly amazing athletic ability and physique every game. He is on the list of greatest physical specimens the sports world has ever seen, and the fact that he wears red, white and blue for a uniform makes him resemble that of Captain America rather than a Los Angeles Clipper. If you have ever had the good fortune to meet and speak to Blake Griffin, you would know that he is one of the most enjoyable people to be around, despite his superhero-like  appearance. He is constantly playing jokes on teammates, photo-bombing interviews and always has a good-natured sense of humor.

Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin /

His performance on the court this season certainly resembles that of a superhero. Ever since his partner in crime, Chris Paul, put on the Clippers uniform Griffin has taken a backseat to greatness, at least in the eyes of the media. While detractors have been known to label Griffin as nothing more than a slam dunk maestro, his game consists of so much more than high-flying artistry.By selecting Griffin with the first pick in the 2009 draft, the Clippers began to lay the foundation and establish a winning culture, one that took shape when Griffin first stepped on the court during the 2010-11 season. When he arrived in the league as a rookie, Griffin was seen as a one-dimensional player who’s athletic ability would make him look leaps and bounds better than he actually was; to the credit of everyone that claimed this, you were right. Were right. It may have come later than we all would have hoped or expected, but Blake Griffin has made the change to a complete basketball player.

Since his rookie year, Griffin has finished among the top two power forwards in terms of assists per game each season, and led his position with 3.7 dimes a night in 2012-13. This season, Griffin ranks No. 3 among power forwards with 3.4 assists per game, although it’s worth noting that his numbers are climbing. After averaging three assists in November and 3.1 in December, Griffin finished with five per game in January and has recorded 4.7 per game so far in February.

Following Wednesday night’s loss against the Miami Heat, Griffin is now shooting a shade under 40 percent between 16-24 feet, according to NBA.com, up more than five percent from last season.  In addition, Griffin has already attempted 178 jumpers and made 71 from that distance, which is staggering when you consider that he attempted 245 and converted on just 84 last season. There’s also the matter of Griffin’s evolving post game. Through 39 games, Griffin is scoring a career-best 0.97 points per possession on post-ups, which ranks No. 21 overall; 27.5 percent of Griffin’s touches come in post-up situations, eight percent more than any other play type. It’s these reasons, and not the dunking, why Griffin has been selected as a Second Team All-NBA member two years running.  With his work ethic and drive, it doesn’t look like he’ll be regressing soon.

It has truly been stunning what Griffin has accomplished since Chris Paul went down with a shoulder injury. Since Paul’s injury on Jan. 3, Griffin has averaged 27.5 points 8.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.5 steals in 16 games. His performance is, in large part, the main reason the Clippers have been able to survive and keep their playoff home court hopes still alive.

In the middle of the Clippers-Heat game, announcer and former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy called Griffin the modern-day Karl Malone. For anyone who has seen Malone at his best while with the Utah Jazz (if you haven’t please come out your cave), this is probably one the highest praises you could give Griffin, whose physique and style of play do in-fact resemble that of the Mailman. On the negative, Karl Malone never won a championship. That, however, says nothing about his basketball skills since there was just some guy named Michael Jordan in Malone’s way. Griffin (not Chris Paul) give the Clippers the best chance at winning a title, and with his play this year and his potential only rising, I’d say the Clips will be in the NBA Finals soon enough.