This summer Blake Griffin had surgery on his left knee after being diagnosed with a medial meniscus tear, while trying out for Team USA in Las Vegas. It was his second surgery on that left knee since he was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers with the first overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. Some people think that the latest knee surgery should cause Griffin to change the way he plays the game, but that isn’t going to happen.
Griffin first underwent surgery on that left knee when he broke his kneecap in the final preseason game of his first year with the Clippers, causing him to miss the entire 2009-2010 NBA season. He returned the following season and didn’t skip a beat, making the 2010-2011 All-Star team, winning the 2010-2011 Rookie of the Year Award, and winning the 2011 NBA Slam-Dunk Contest. In just two years in the NBA he has become one of the most exciting players around the league, mainly because of his unbelievable athletic ability.
That athletic ability translates into a very rare jumping ability, which has raised the question of how long will his knees hold up for? If you have ever seen Griffin play you know he doesn’t just dunk the basketball. When this guy leaves his feet for a slam-dunk it’s like watching a spaceship on its lift-off and when he comes down you might as well take cover. (That description was probably a bit too much, but just ask Timofey Mozgov and Kendrick Perkins about it.)
Anyways, Griffin is just 23-years-old and has a lot of basketball left to play. It has always been a part of his game to use that athletic ability to his advantage, which has made him one of the best power forwards in the NBA. So what do people really mean when they say he should change his game? There is no way he’s going to go out there and not use that athleticism against his opponents, especially when he knows that he still has it. If people think he should take it easy they’re crazy, it’s the NBA. If you think he should become more of perimeter player, it’s going to take a while. He hasn’t developed a trustworthy enough jump shot for that to happen, which would definitely make him the top power forward in the NBA if he ever does.
So far in three preseason games it looks like Griffin has no intention of changing his game. In two exhibition games in China against the Miami Heat he was all over the court making plays as usual. He was playing the only way he knows how to play, sprinting down the court in transition looking for the lob pass, jumping higher than most to grab rebounds, and always playing physical in the paint. That is the guy that put up 20.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game last season. That is also the guy that the Clippers want on the basketball court and if that wasn’t the case then why would they have signed him to a five year contract extension worth up to $95 million in the off-season? Exactly.
If the Clippers want to win now they will need the same “freakish” athlete that Griffin has been so far throughout his career. I understand two knee surgeries at the age of 23 will make people nervous and who knows how long his knees will hold up for, but his athletic ability is what makes him the special player he is and it’s clear that he still has that.
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