Detroit Pistons: 3 early-season surprises in 2018-19

(Photo by Christopher Evans/Digital First Media/Boston Herald via Getty Images)
(Photo by Christopher Evans/Digital First Media/Boston Herald via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

1. Blake Griffin is staying healthy

After sitting out what would’ve been his NBA rookie season recovering from knee surgery, Griffin looked like an iron man following his official NBA debut. In his first four pro seasons, Griffin missed a total of four games.

But over the next four years, he routinely missed games with a collection of injuries all over his body. He never played more than 67 games in any of those four seasons. Splitting time between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Pistons last season, Griffin played in 58 games.

When the Pistons traded for Griffin last February and put him in place as the face of the franchise and No. 1 offensive option, there was an undeniable risk involved for a player with a big contract and an alarming history of not being able to stay healthy.

So far this season, Griffin has posted stats that could lead to his sixth All-Star Game selection and fifth All-NBA nod. Just as important, he has been available whenever the Pistons need him. Griffin has only missed one game, and that was Casey’s decision to give him the day off. In his 29 appearances, Griffin has averaged 35.9 minutes per game, the most he’s played since 2014-15.

Surely there is some concern that giving Griffin so many minutes this early in the season will lead to more injuries and missed time down the road. Anyone with an investment in the Pistons would rather have Griffin as close to 100 percent as possible for a playoff run.

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Then again, it’s tough to voluntarily sit someone down when he’s healthy and putting up 25.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.