Blake Griffin’s offensive versatility has always been a little understated. While he made a name for himself as the NBA’s most prolific dunker, Griffin’s offensive game has evolved each year he’s been in the league.
His jump shot has steadily improved over the course of his five-year career, as has his post game, and this year it’s paying off for the Clippers.
On Monday night in a tight game against the Phoenix Suns, the Clippers inbounded the ball to Griffin at the three-point line. With time expiring, he faked a hand-off to Chris Paul, turned around, and sank the game-winning three.
Griffin got a fortuitous bounce, which he admitted after the game: “When I shot it, I thought it was flat, short, off, everything. But it was good. I got a lucky bounce.”
Doc Rivers said of Griffin’s shot, “Who works more on their shot than Blake? He and Bob Thate work their butt off. Two years ago, Blake wouldn’t have the courage to take that shot. Tonight he wanted it. He stepped back and looked for it. That’s a courageous shot.”
A couple of seasons ago this kind of shot — never mind a drawn-up play for a game-winner — was unthinkable for Griffin. This year, though, jumper are a significant part of his game. Through 20 games, 36% of Griffin’s shots have been mid-range jumpers, where in past years, he shot an average of 21.8% of his shots from that distance.
Griffin’s shot chart shows how prevalent jumpers have become for him. He’s shooting above the league average in shots outside of the paint and within the three-point line.
Griffin’s 6-10 three-point shooting through 20 games is a career-high for him, too, adding a scary element to his repertoire.
Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry charted Griffin’s offensive growth, noting that since his rookie season, Griffin has moved further outside the paint, with greater efficiency. He’s always been dominant in the paint, but he’s become an effective post player and shooter, too.
Chris Paul told the Washington Post at the beginning of the season that adding a jumper is important for Griffin’s game: “Blake is an elite player in this league, an all-star, an all-NBA. I don’t think we’re saying, ‘You can take these shots, but not these shots.’ I don’t think there’s a shot that we don’t want him to take. When he’s open, when he has a shot, he’s going to take it.”
Rivers similarly echoed that Griffin expanding his offensive game gives the Clippers “a great dimension.”
The Clippers are currently third in the NBA in offensive rating, scoring 111 points per 100 possessions. With Griffin on the court, that number jumps to 115. If he continues improving his jumper, he may become virtually unguardable.
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