Blake Griffin’s Newest Weapon

Since his rookie year in 2010, Blake Griffin has consistently improved multiple aspects of his game.

When he first came into the league, he was labeled as an explosive player who could only dunk and could barely shoot a respectable jumper. Back then it may have been true but Griffin has honed his skills in the past few off-seasons and has become a mid-range threat with his improved jumper. When healthy, you could argue that Griffin is the best all-around power forward in the league because of his versatility and the impact that he has on the game every night. In Sunday night’s game against the Charlotte Hornets, Griffin once again showed how dominant he can be when he is aggressive on his way to 43 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

The game was a perfect showcase of the power forward’s offensive abilities as he scored in almost every way imaginable. Griffin showed off his post skills, bullying his way into and-ones on the block, stepped out and hit rhythmic pick and pop mid-range jumpers, pushed the tempo in transition and converted on difficult lay-ups and flaunted his newest weapon, a reliable three-point shot.

Since coming back from his mid-season surgery to remove loose bodies from his knee, Griffin has been on a tear on offense. In those 13 games, he has averaged 24.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 50.7 percent from the floor. His numbers have been phenomenal but the most impressive aspect of his game as of late has been his willingness and success in shooting the three-pointer. In the first 26 games of the season, Griffin took 22 three-pointers and only made 5 of them which is a lackluster 22.7 percent. In the 13 games since his return, he has taken the same number of threes (22), while hitting 10 of them, equaling out to a respectable 45.5 percent clip. In the game against the Hornets, he was three for four from behind the arc and looked good on all of his attempts. His herky-jerky jumper has become more and more smooth as time has progressed and you can see the newfound confidence in his shot when he shoots his jumper.

Of his three made long balls, none were more impressive than this fourth quarter corner three.

View post on imgur.com

With the shot clock winding down, CP3 makes a difficult cross-court pass to Griffin, who catches the ball at his ankles with just three seconds left. Without any hesitation, Blake saves the low pass and continues right into his jump-shot and drains the three to put the Clippers ahead. This confident corner three is a shot that we’ve never really seen from the forward before and if this same situation had happened a few seasons ago, it probably would have resulted in Griffin taking a flustered jumper before the shot clock expired or attempting to drive through a group of defenders for a lay-up.

While that corner three was impressive and key to the Clippers OT win, the majority of Blake’s three-point makes and attempts have come from above the break. In the past 13 games where he is shooting 45.5 percent from deep overall, Griffin is 7 of 13 from above the break, good enough for 53.8 percent. Let’s take a look at this three-pointer from the February 13th game against the Utah Jazz.

View post on imgur.com

Griffin starts as the ball handler and sets a screen on the hand off for Crawford. Lyles leaves Griffin to cut off Crawford’s lane to the basket while Neto runs around Blake’s screen to try and catch up with Jamal. This allows Blake to step behind the three-point line unguarded and get a minimally contested three-pointer that he releases without hesitation. Before defenders would have worried more about Griffin getting the ball on a cut to the rim and would move to block his lane but his newfound shooting from deep should now keep defenders on their toes, not knowing if the forward will roll towards the basket or pop out for the long ball.

Moving forward it is safe to assume that Griffin will only shoot threes situationally and will not start standing out behind the arc on offense looking to shoot threes. Falling in love with his jumper has been in issue in the past but Blake has seemed to realize when he should indulge in mid-range jumpers compared to driving the lane or working his way into the post. While the three-point shot will certainly continue to be another weapon in his deep arsenal, expect Blake to limit the attempts to three or four a game. However his new reliable long ball is just one more thing for opposing teams to defend and we will likely see him make some key threes in the latter half of the season.

Noah Shatzer

In addition to writing for Popgates.com, Noah is also a weekly contributor to GM Hoops. He hasn’t missed a Clippers game the past two seasons but desperately misses Byron Mullens and his goofy facial hair.