Posted by Royce Young
Blake Griffin leads the NBA in dunks. By a wide margin actually. According to the CBS Sports Dunk-O-Meter, Griffin has 91 dunks on the season, nine more than Dwight Howard.
In fact, 26 percent of Griffin's total field goals have come via a dunk. (Howard's number is at 27 percent.)
With his inclusion as the headliner in All-Star Weekend's dunk contest and the highlight reel he's put together halfway through the season, Griffin has become known as a dunker first, basketball player second.
But in his best game of the season, a 47-point explosion on just 24 shots, Griffin only dunked once. I know what you're thinking. Well how in the heck did he score then? The answer is, by doing a bit of everything. Watch:
As Ben Golliver pointed out yesterday, Griffin scored every way you can, except from the 3-point line. He attacked the rim. He got to the line. He posted. He hit the boards and put back rebounds. He spun, twirled and whirled all over the floor. And that little face-up bank shot? Oh my, so money.
The question really becomes after we saw the entire Griffin arsenal unleashed, how do you guard this guy? If he can hit a face-up jumper one second and then dribble right by you and finish with his face at the rim, how in the world do you stop him? You can try sending double-teams, except that Griffin is a gifted passer and can even dribble out of them. You can try and deny him the ball, except that he's so big and strong that he will get it. Or you can just foul him and try and make him beat you at the free throw line. Except over the past few games, he's hitting close to 70 percent from the stripe.
A lot of people wonder where Griffin got all this ability. I mean, how does a 6-10, 250-pound guy have the handles of a point guard and the moves of gifted small forward? First off, it's hard work. Nobody, and I mean nobody , has worked harder than Griffin at perfecting his game and getting into stellar shape. Blake and his brother Taylor spent their summers in college working out in California with trainer Frank Matrisciano. The Griffin brothers worked out on sand dunes and cliffs hanging over the Pacific Ocean. Taylor said once, "It's definitely one of the hardest things you will ever face. Frank's thing is that if you can run up a 60-degree incline in sand with a 60-pound weight vest on, then running 94 feet down a flat court should be easy."
After that, it's just Blake's background. I actually had the good fortune of knowing the Griffin brothers growing up, having played little league baseball with Taylor and also going to church events with both of them. (It's funny for me because I actually remember Blake being this little annoying kid that wouldn't get out of our dugout. Blake so badly wanted to play on our team, but he was too small. Imagine that.) Blake and Taylor both were homeschooled up until high school and played homeschool basketball. And both of them primarily were guards. Or more specifically, point forwards. That's the way things work a lot of times. Your best player has the ball and your best player does all the creating. That was certainly Blake's role.
If my memory serves me, Blake didn't really sprout into the monster he is now until he was a freshman. For most of his basketball career growing up, he was bigger than the other kids, but not THAT much bigger. So he played a lot of point guard and handled the ball. Taylor did the same. So as Blake grew into the beast that he is now, he had already overcome what so many big men battle. Blake had conquered ball handling and passing, because he did it extensively when he was 12. While other big men were planted in the post from the time they could pick up a ball, Griffin played outside, handling, passing and moving.
So really, that's the scariest thing about Blake's ceiling. He hasn't even had a ton of time to refine a real post game yet. He's still figuring out what he's good at and what the best way for him to score is. And just dropping 47 points on 24 shots in the meantime
But get this much straight: It's not just about the dunks.