When the Los Angeles Clippers suffered a bitter first round defeat to Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2012-13 NBA playoffs, many fans questioned Blake Griffin's game. Comments like “he can only dunk" and "Chris Paul makes him look better than he really is" seemed to flood social media.

Even before the series started, NBA fans thought that Griffin was one of, if not the most overrated player in the NBA.

Well, so much for that. Right now Blake is having the best season of his career. With the Clippers on the verge of winning their 50th game, Griffin has been crucial to the Clippers success this year.

“I think clearly he’s running the floor better and he’s handling the ball more,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said about Blake's success this year. “I just think the overall confidence in his game has grown and his shot and his ability to face the basket instead of always trying to play physical with the bigs. I think that’s where he’s improved the most and he’s still going to keep getting better. I don’t think he’s where he wants to be yet at all.”

[tps_title]The Injury[/tps_title]

With star point guard Chris Paul missing 18 games before the All-Star break, Griffin thrived with his increased role on the team.

Blake Griffin's stats without Chris Paul in the lineup were 27.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game (Clippers 12-6).

His best game during this stretch was when he notched 43 points, 15 rebounds and six assists versus the defending champion Miami Heat, as shown in the video above.

[tps_title]Blake's Improved Jump Shot[/tps_title]

Coming into the 2013-14 season, Griffin had a reputation of being a terrible shooter that only dunked.

Here is Griffin's jump shot chart in the 2012-13 season, where shot 28.1 percent on all his shots:


Here's the one from this season, where he made a 5 percent improvement:


Blake took a great step in a right direction this year, He's taking more midrange shots and he's shooting better from the free throw line (66 percent last year, 70 percent this year).

“It’s not going to happen overnight, that’s what I’ve been hearing since Day 1 even though I didn’t want to believe it,” Griffin said on his improved jumper. “Last summer was the first full summer I was really able to work from the beginning of summer to the end of summer and really put the time in. It’s a lot more mental than I used to think it was.

"Really locking in every single shot and really focusing in on things that [my shooting coach Bob Thate] wants me to focus on. Creating those habits is big. Even now when I come out to shoot pregame, he’s on me every single time I pick up the ball. I constantly hear him in my ear.”

[tps_title]Teammate Praise[/tps_title]

blake griffin deandre jordan 2014

With the Clippers success this year, Blake has received high praises from his teammates.

“Blake is so mature -- we’ve been together now three years, sometimes I think we’re the same age. We always say the sky’s the limit for him, but it really is. He’s unbelievable. He’s so durable and so athletic and loves the game. He’s unreal," Chris Paul says.

Even the newly acquired Danny Granger chimed in

"I've always known he was a freak of nature, but what I didn't know is his skill level. The way he shoots the ball, the way he passes, he's a very unique player with the package of skills he has. Not many power forwards can make moves going to the basket. He may be the only one."


With the playoffs ahead, Griffin has a lot of things to prove this year. Last season, he had a terrible postseason, only averaging 13 points and five rebounds while being limited to 26.3 minutes a game due to a high ankle sprain. He got bullied in the post by Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph during the entire series.

Randolph straight up wrestled Griffin to the ground this time, as the Grizzlies beat the Clippers last year in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.


There's no doubt in my mind that Blake will have a great postseason. Memphis is sitting at the No. 8seed and "Lob City" is 3 ½ games behind the San Antonio Spurs, so don't rule out another possible Randolph and Griffin meeting.

If Griffin plays like he has done all season, I expect to see the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals this year.


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