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The Kool-Aid Stand: New Blake Griffin, who dis?

This ain’t your slightly older brother’s Blake Griffin.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Phoenix Suns Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Ending up the dog days of summer, DBB is rolling out a series of players that our writers are optimistic about this coming season - even perhaps irrationally optimistic.

All my chips for the 2018-19 season reside comfortably in the firm grip of Blake Griffin. While this series is designed to be an exercise in explaining irrational love, in my head, the heightened expectations I’ve foisted upon Griffin are perfectly reasonable.

At this point, there is no need to debate the trade or his hefty price tag. The Griffin-trade milk has already been spilled, or if you prefer, the Griffin-trade toothpaste can’t be put back into its tube. Also, please keep in mind you can kill a vampire any way you wish.

What you will read below is directly related to his on court production during the upcoming season in front of the hundreds of rowdy fans at LCA, at sold out arenas across the NBA platform, and to the millions watching worldwide.

Not a believer? Fair enough, let’s take a stab at your hater checklist:

  • He’s going to get injured.
  • Past his prime.
  • Not a good fit.

If that’s your agenda, by chance, are you a national reporter? You know, one of those mega-media types who couldn’t pick Reggie Bullock out of a one person lineup but still predicts certain Pistons doom?

No? Well, it was just an educated guess. Anyway, here we go.

Challenge accepted.

He’s going to get injured

This is the best and most often used gripe about Griffin. By ‘best’ I mean dumbest.

I hate to speak in absolutes but there is absolutely no chance Griffin plays all 82 games, that much I will gladly concede. By 2018 standards, though, a perfect attendance award shouldn’t be expected.

Since his official rookie year in 2010-11, Blake Griffin has played in 83-percent (529 out-of-a-possible 640) of all regular season games. Give or take, it’s the going rate for many NBA players. Stephen Curry, John Wall, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant and countless other stars are within (or below) a nine iron of Griffin’s 83-percent mark.

So, what are we even talking about? If an impending injury is a concern of yours, it better be firmly on the table of worries for nearly every other player in the league. In regards to trusting he’ll be on the court, if every player is an injury waiting to happen then no player is an injury waiting to happen. Do yourself a favor and stop fretting about an uncontrollable variable.

Furthermore, all of Griffin’s recent (dating back to 2015-16) suit and tie sideline looks are a result of random, non-kinetic chain, non-chronic related mishaps.

Left quadriceps strain? Big deal.

An unfortunate meeting between Griffin’s hand and a team trainer’s face resulted in a slight setback. Yawn.

Minor knee surgery in late 2016? Boring.

His right big toe injury during the 2017 playoffs couldn’t be more arbitrary if it tried.

Griffin’s “injury-plagued” career isn’t on the same planet as Brandon Roy and Greg Oden’s knees, Bill Walton’s foot, Grant Hill’s ankle/feet, Sam Bowie’s leg, Jay Williams’ motorcycle, or Andrew Bynum’s brain.

He’s not attempting to put the ball in the hoop after microfracture surgery like Jamal Mashburn, Anfernee Hardaway, or Amar’e Stoudemire. There is no ACL tear in Griffin’s background like Derrick Rose, Kristaps Porzingis, or Brandon Knight.

Those guys, and many more like them, are the players that need your extra special attention.

Blake Griffin is a basketball player who gets nicked up from time to time - just like a solid majority of everyone who’s ever bounced a ball. Griffin playing 70 games next year should share the same odds as Griffin playing 30 games - just like a solid majority of everyone who’s ever bounced a ball. That’s life.

Can’t believe I just wasted your time on such an elementary concept. For this DBB, I apologize but it had to be done.

Past his prime

This is the best and most often used gripe about Griffin. By ‘best’ I mean dumbest.

Past his prime? What does that even mean?


News flash, a highlight dunk, no matter how highlight-y, counts for two points. In other words, the same as this:

Double news flash, three points is worth more than two points. In his first six seasons, the athletic “prime” saw Griffin connect on 42 total three-pointers. In 25 games with the Pistons last year, he knocked down 47.

Let me get this straight, in a space-creation-is-the-only-thing-that-people-talk-about 2018 landscape, you’re choosing “prime” Griffin over present day Griffin? Um, what?

Look, I like dunks, you like dunks, we all like dunks but they don’t own a monopoly on prime.

Per CTG, during the 2013-14 season (24 points per game clip), 65-percent of all Griffin makes were assisted. That rate dwindled down to 45-percent this past season slotting him in the 98th-percentile of shot creating bigs. During the Reggie Jackson era, the only Pistons player who could engineer their own shot - most notably in crunch time - has been Reggie Jackson. New Blake Griffin changes all of that.

31-percent of all Pistons’ field goals were assisted by Griffin while he was on the court which put him in the 100th-percentile of all playmaking bigs. His passi....

Hold on, what am I even arguing? I have to hard sell a 6-foot-10 forward with bullish strength and devilish good looks who can create his own shot, find the open man and started to dabble in volume three-point shooting? Nah, I’m done with that. If you can’t see what he provides then I don’t know what to tell you.

While young, bouncy and springy Blake Griffin is a fun watch, the New Blake Griffin can manipulate defenses that prime Griffin can only dream about.

Not a good fit

This is the best and most often used gripe about Griffin. By ‘best’ I mean dumbest.

When Griffin was traded to Detroit in late-January, the Pistons world lost their collective mind. The enormous contract was one thing but, my God, the fit! How can Griffin and Andre Drummond co-exist?! Will someone please think about the children!

The next time I see the word “fit” while scrolling Twitter in regards to the Griffin-Dre duo, I’m going to throw my phone at someone. As a favor, please don’t trigger me. I cannot afford another phone-throwing related lawsuit or, for that matter, another new phone.

“Fit” is just so...what’s the word I’m looking for...oh yeah, lazy. “Fit” is just so lazy.

Fit assumes there is one singular style to play the game of basketball and if your pieces don’t fit snugly into that one style then you won’t be able to participate. Sorry, that’s not how hoops works.

Believe it or not, big people are bigger than small people. It’s an undeniable fact about life and an undeniable advantage in the game both Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond partake in. Big certainly isn’t the end-all and be-all of basketball as the overall skill level of any one player is as important as ever. We got that covered too.

In speaking of our favorite duo, there are only a handful of big dudes on the planet that can match the skill level of Griffin and Drummond. How many rim-runners provide better vertical spacing than Drummond? How many (true) power forwards can put the ball on the floor like Griffin? Name a better passing front-court, I’ll wait. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the Pistons could run the starting offense through Jackson, Griffin or Dre. How many Eastern Conference teams not named the Celtics, Raptors or 76ers enjoy the same three player option luxury?

Both bigs own highly usable skill sets but they must be harnessed and pointed in the right direction. Andre Drummond is not rigid Roy Hibbert, unleash him and let him be an athlete. Build on their strengths. Like my main man Kevin McHale says about today’s game: big beats small; skilled small beats stiff big; skilled big beats skilled small.

Detroit has two unique bigs and that’s a good thing no matter what 99 percent of national podcasts, Doom Squad and Twitter would have you believe. It’s not like we’re trying to navigate today’s NBA with the player versions of Blockbuster Video and Windows 95, the combination of Griffin and Drummond can absolutely win games in 2018. Other teams don’t use two bigs - who cares?

New coach Dwane Casey must put on his thinking cap in order to amplify the talent of his capable front-court and the couple shooters who will flank them. It won’t be easy but nothing worthwhile is. Under no circumstances should the Pistons start planning their championship parade down Woodward but, relatively speaking, they will compete.

The goal of Casey should be transforming Andre Drummond into the best Andre Drummond he can possibly be while also maximizing every fiber of basketball ingenuity, both tapped and untapped, out of Blake Griffin. Do that and the “fit” concern is in the rear view.

Welcome to the Blake Train, my friends. Next stop: meaningful Detroit basketball in the month of May.