When discussing elite power forwards in the NBA, perhaps nobody faces as much criticism as Blake Griffin. We’re enamored with his rim rattling dunks and his uncanny ability to run the floor, yet it’s hard to avoid the most flawed area in his game. People routinely say “he only dunks”, but my question is, why is that a bad thing?
Blake Griffin’s boundaries are what make him the player he is. We berate Josh Smith for his tendency to shoot long jumpers, yet we criticize Blake for… not shooting them? It’s like we see him doing these super-human things, displaying unfathomable leaping ability and athleticism for a person his size, so for that reason we hold him to a higher standard. If he had the ability of a Kevin Garnett or LaMarcus Aldridge to step out and hit that jumper there’s no doubt it would make him a better player, but he doesn’t. And while he is working on developing that, he still has a career average of over 20 points per game.
Griffin’s unparalleled athleticism is by far his biggest advantage, so why is he criticized for exploiting it? No other big man in the league can run the floor like him, and his mix of quickness and strength allow for a spectacular array of moves in the post. I absolutely hate when people say he has no post moves, because that statement is incredibly misguided. He may not be Olajuwon-esque, but then again, nobody is. He can muscle you into the paint, his jump hook has vastly improved, and he uses the up and under regularly. His dribbling ability from the face-up position is unfair, and his signature spin move is almost un-guardable. Seriously, look at this and tell me what other power forward can do it:
Oh, and this.
His defense, which has been an issue in the past, is following his offense down the road of improvement. He’s posting a sub 100 defensive rating, making him 19th in the league just behind players like Kevin Garnett and Marc Gasol. He is also doubling his steals per game from last year, despite playing fewer minutes.
My point is that Blake Griffin is a great player in this league, yet people tend to talk about his flaws rather than appreciate his positive attributes. He does dunk a lot, but until anyone stops it, why should he? He does catch a lot of ally-oops, but until someone can contest them, I presume he’ll keep jumping. He’s one of the most dominant players the league has to offer without the advantage of a quality jump shot. I’m not sure whether to be impressed with his ability to dominate the opposition without one, or fear the day he develops it.