Tag Archives: Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin and the Clippers Comes Out Swinging in 2016-17

The 2015-16 season was many things for Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, but “good” wasn’t one of them. On top of a partially torn left quad suffered in December, Griffin’s bar fight with a member of the team’s equipment staff and ensuing hand injury caused him to miss 47 games. Along with the missed games, Griffin became the brunt of countless Twitter jokes, such as this gem:

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(Okay, that one wasn’t even related to him punching out the equipment guy, but Griffin has been through a lot these past few seasons.)

It was strange watching someone who’s career has been built off endorsements, dunking and general excitement to be thrown into the headlines for something so negative. It was like if Rob Gronkowski got drunk and punched out someone on his party boat, it just shouldn’t happen.

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Heading into this season, Griffin needed to come back in a big way. So did the Clippers. Sure, they were 4th in a solid Western Conference last year, but they lost in the first round to the lower seeded Portland Trail Blazers in six games. That was their first opening round exit since 2013, and it marked a decline from the steady rise of previous seasons.

It’s no secret that Griffin had a big hand in the Clippers’ woes last season. Rumors were swirling about his relationship with Chris Paul, and a power struggle was apparent right up until Griffin’s incident. Part of the reason why this affected the Clippers so much is the conflict between locker room turmoil and a playing style that relied heavily on big plays and team chemistry. It’s hard to make it look good on the court when things are a mess behind the scenes.

Heading into this season, Griffin got in front of the issues as quick as possible. In a letter to Clippers fans in The Player’s Tribune, he opened by talking about the elephant in the room:

“Last season sucked. I am truly sorry. What happened in Toronto was 100% my fault. I messed up. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. And I don’t mean that in some clichéd “not a day goes by” way.” Griffin said. “I genuinely think about it every single day, and I just feel like I let down the fans who have been riding with us since the beginning.”

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Griffin goes on to talk about the pride he has playing for the Clippers, and talks about his relationships with everyone on the team. Even if he didn’t write it, (ironically, many players don’t write their own stuff on The Player’s Tribune), the sentiment was great. That being said, it wouldn’t mean anything if he didn’t go out on the court and back it up. But he did.

As of today, the Los Angeles Clippers are 13-2, and first in the Western Conference. Griffin leads the team in scoring with 21.9 PPG. The Clippers have one of the best defenses in the NBA, led by Deandre Jordan, who currently sits at 5th in the NBA in rebounds. Chris Paul leads the league in steals, and the team as a whole appears to be finding a groove.

It’s hard to say whether or not the Clippers will be able to keep pace with the highly skilled Golden State Warriors in the West, but as of now, they’re off to one of the best starts in recent memory. Early on, Griffin could be the potential frontrunner for comeback player of the year. If he can go out and have a successful season, the Clippers as a whole will look pretty good come playoff time. Until then? Well, as Griffin put it in his letter, “F— it. Let’s just go out and play basketball.”

 

 

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Shamrock Shakeup: Celtics Hunt For Major Trade

If you believed every trade rumor you heard, you would think the Boston Celtics were the basketball equivalent of The Avengers.

The Celtics have been linked to almost every major free agent this offseason, and Danny Ainge has been making more phone calls than a creepy drunk ex-boyfriend. Beginning with Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and the successful courting of Al Horford, Ainge has now reportedly moved on to two new potential signees: Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin.
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So, why are we all of a sudden seeing so many players linked to the Celtics? The first part of that is an aggressive free agent strategy. Ainge realizes that the Celtics are one or two players away from becoming worthy adversaries to the Cavaliers, so he has been recruiting like we’ve never quite seen before. This hard work is what allowed the Celtics to sign Al Horford, a move that escalated them into a new tier of NBA teams. Rather than viewing the Celtics as a team that will tread water in the Eastern Conference, a.k.a every team besides Cleveland, players now view it as a favorable situation with an organization that has perhaps the richest history in all of the NBA. Horford was the first domino to fall, now the question is if he made enough of a shockwave for others to fall as well.

The chances of Westbrook leaving Oklahoma City this off-season are slim, but even the mere possibility of a player of his caliber leaving for another city is headline news. Additionally, given the crazy moves we’ve seen so far this off-season, nothing, and I mean nothing, can be ruled out. It has been rumored time and time again that Los Angeles is Westbrook’s premier landing spot, but a lot of this was reported before the Celtics suddenly became such an attractive destination. Also, thanks to some mild stalking by SB Nation and other media outlets, it was confirmed that Westbrook, Ainge, and Isaiah Thomas were all in San Diego at the same time. Something tells me they weren’t all there to see a Padres game.

While Westbrook is a reach as far as 2016-17 is concerned, the Celtics are set up to be major players in the Westbrook free-agency scramble next off-season. If Ainge has his sights set on getting the best player available, that might be the best move here. Westbrook doesn’t necessarily fit into Brad Stevens’ offense as well as other potential recruits do, but he is by far the most talented.

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The other major player the Celtics are reportedly targeting, Blake Griffin, is perhaps even more intriguing. Though he is not the prolific offensive threat that Westbrook is, Griffin compliments what the Celtics are trying to do much better. Horford is a great shooter, so that allows Griffin to do his thing in the paint, an area that has been his wheelhouse thus far in his pro career. Recent incidents aside, (hang in there, Celtics equipment managers), Griffin would have great chemistry in Boston. There wouldn’t be any particular player that is viewed as “the guy”, whereas with Westbrook it would be his show.

Finally, there is one more rumor that must be included in the realm of possibility. Ainge said he plans to make a big move, so if all else fails, Jahlil Okafor may be fair game. It might not be the first choice for the Celtics, but it certainly would be a big move. Nerlins Noel has also been floated as a possibility, but that would hardly be seen as a big move. Okafor, though he may not have blown anyone away in his rookie season, still has enormous star potential and with a roster that includes Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlins Noel and Ben Simmons, it just seems like someone has to be the odd man out there.

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