I really enjoy watching sure-fire Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin on the court. Really, who doesn’t, right?
He’s electrifying near the basket, and I’m always hoping the Clippers can turn some rebounds into fast breaks for the opportunity to see him in flight.
But it got me thinking… Where are the highlights of him blocking shots? Those should be as nasty and beastly as his powerful throwdowns, if only they existed.
Going into Thursday night’s game against Portland, Griffin only recorded 26 blocks in his first 41 games in the NBA. That comes out to just .6 blocks per game for a 6-10 athletic freak, who is possibly the quickest jumping player in the league. That average puts him behind the likes of these defensive stalwarts, to name a few:
- 6-foot-3 Derrick Rose (.7 blocks per game)
- 6-foot-8 Boris Diaw (.7 bpg)
- 6-foot-9 Amir Johnson (1.1 bpg)
I watched the Clippers-Trailblazers game because I was interested in why he isn’t a much bigger threat and presence on defense. The only answer I could come up with?
Effort. There were a lot of plays he could have challenged the shooter near the rim, but instead chose to kind of stay out of harm’s way and just put his arms up. Definitely wasn’t protecting the rim the way you would expect from someone with his ridiculous abilities.
I tried to rationalize that maybe Vinny Del Negro has told him to not be as aggressive and stay out of foul trouble considering how important he is to their offense and rebounding game, but that just doesn’t make much sense. He could dominate a game and really control the real estate around the rim. I can’t imagine many people would keep challenging him after a couple of big blocks. He would force guards and bigs to change their game, the way Shaq, Duncan and even LeBron has (when he’s in the mood to play D).
And Griffin isn’t a diva player that is just flash and finesse. He is fourth in the league in rebounds with 12.7 per game, which means he’s clearly around the rim and doesn’t mind jumping high and wrestling with people to get a loose ball. So, why not that same effort a little earlier before the ball hits the rime? On offense, he clearly loves sprinting towards his own basket for the possibility of a highlight, but he almost seems disinterested at times on defense.
Before his game against the Blazers, 20 of his 41 games ended with him having zero blocks. He’s had five game with two blocks, and zero with three or more.
In one stretch, he had four straight games without a block, and in one of those he had 17 rebounds, so he was definitely in the mood to hustle.
I guess that’s the frustrating thing for me. He clearly has all the tools to be a special all-around player, but at the moment, he only seems to be using his hammer.