Remember when Blake Griffin was carrying the Detroit Pistons on his back?
Game winners against the Philadelphia 76ers that sent Little Caesars Arena into a frenzy Piston fans haven’t seen since the days of Mr. Big Shot.
Dunking on rival Joel Embiid and showing Detroit wasn’t going to be punk’d anymore?
Symbolizing the Detroit heart, mentality, toughness, and hard work in the playoffs after playing through injury against the Milwaukee Bucks and still putting up absurd numbers?
Those were the days. It feels like those days were years ago, not just eight months ago.
It appears, however, that carrying the Pistons on his back might have broken Blake.
It’d be an understatement to say this season hasn’t gone how Griffin, and the Pistons, had planned. Griffin missed almost all of preseason and the first 10 games of the regular season before returning on Nov. 11.
In 13 games played this season, Griffin is averaging career-lows across the board; 17.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. Shooting a putrid 38.1% from the floor and 28.4% from deep. This has been a young season to forget for Griffin.
Fans have started to turn on Griffin, some even asking for him to be traded from Detroit. Mind you, this is the same player that was being called one of the best players (talent-wise) in Pistons history just a season ago.
Those out there believe Griffin has simply regressed and is simply no longer an effective player. Even more believe he’s falling in love with threes and settling for bad shots.
This could not be further from the case.
Yeah, Griffin is taking a lot of threes, 6.2 per game to be exact. But, that’s actually less than last year where he shot 7.0 attempts per game.
The difference is last year, his three-point attempts made up of only 38% of his total attempts from the floor. This year, they make up 43%.
Which means he’s taking less shots as a whole this year.
Why is this?
To put it simply, Blake is not healthy.
Griffin had surgery on his knee immediately after the season ended, and missed the beginning of this season with a hamstring injury. Since returning, he doesn’t look anything like the players Pistons or Clippers fan grew to know over his career.
This isn’t a guy simply getting worse and missing shots.
Griffin looks like he’s playing on one leg half the time he’s on the floor.
While Griffin could be struggling to shake off an extended offseason full of rust, his current health is quite obviously the biggest issue.
Just look at the film.
Here, Griffin is being faced with a low shot clock while operating at the high-post. He’s being guarded by a much smaller defender, and wisely attacks the basket.
If that’s what you wanna call what he did.
After deciding to drive, Griffin sees Myles Turner coming to rotate. Instead of raising up and trying to finish through contact like he has his whole career, Griffin does... this.
He barely gets off the ground and shies away from getting contact, but is claiming for a foul. Ask any person who’s played basketball their whole life, this is what you do when you’re hurt.
You don’t want to deal with the contact, and you often either avoid it or fall away from the contact.
Oh! You mean exactly like in this clip!
Griffin, in past years, was a monster in transition. If he wasn’t finishing with a highlight dunk, he was getting an easy layup or is going to the free throw line. Griffin has never been scared to go directly into your chest and get physical.
Here, Griffin does the exact opposite and it’s not the only time this season. Griffin is driving the transition, with Kristaps Porzingis back on defense.
Instead of attacking the weaker Porzingis, much like Andre Drummond was doing in the beginning of this game, Griffin completely shies away from the contact.
And just like the first clip, he’s asking for the foul.
Griffin is trying to make up for his injury. He knows he cannot physically elevate and explode through contact like last year currently, so he’s trying to get to the free throw line.
But, this is common with basketball players who are hurt. They forget the reason they got calls in the first place is because of how physical of a player they are when playing their game.
Not only is Griffin not playing his game, he ‘s very noticeably fishing for fouls instead of baskets.
Griffin does the exact same thing here against the Milwaukee Bucks. Again, in transition where Griffin is usually a nightmare to deal with.
He drives to the rim, and instead of getting physical and going through the contact, he falls away from the defender and does a half-hearted floater.
Pistons fans, how many times did we see Blake take floaters last season?
I understand if you don’t get back to me for a few days.
Along with this, in every clip, Griffin looks like he’s barely getting off the ground. Despite what people outside Detroit think, Griffin very much was still an insane athlete people grew to love last season.
No, he wasn’t early Clippers days Blake Griffin, but the dude still was absurd with his hops and bounce. He had his fair share of posters made and routinely exploded through or over defenders for easy and-one opportunities.
It’s so insanely clear that Griffin is not okay health-wise that you’d have to be blind to think otherwise.
If the Pistons plan on getting the same Griffin fans grew to love last season, they need to sit Blake out until he is completely, 100% healthy.
Even if you’re in the camp of wanting Griffin traded, no team is trading for a $34.5 million cap, hit player with a true shooting percentage of 50.9, who looks like he’s playing on one leg.
Getting Griffin healthy and back to himself, helps both scenarios. The Pistons are obviously a better team when Griffin is 100 percent and teams will also be interested in a healthy superstar who’s still playing like one.
However, playing Griffin how he is now isn’t helping the Pistons and it’s also not fair to Griffin. If Griffin fought his way to play through this injury, it’s up to the Pistons to save him from himself.
Griffin is not himself right now.
And he needs to be saved.