This time last season, Blake Griffin appeared to be on his last legs as he struggled to get anything going with the Detroit Pistons. But after agreeing to a buyout, Griffin signed with the Brooklyn Nets and was rejuvenated. All of a sudden he was dunking with regularity and putting together big-time performances in the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Griffin and the Nets, that trend hasn't carried over into this season. In fact, he's been so bad over the first month-plus of the season that Nets coach Steve Nash finally had to remove him from the rotation entirely. Griffin has not played at all in the Nets' last two games.
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Speaking to reporters, Griffin said that he understood getting taken out of the starting lineup, but was surprised not to be playing at all. Via ESPN:
"No, I mean listen, [LaMarcus Aldridge] has been playing unbelievable," Griffin said. "So, I totally get starting him, especially Joe [Harris] has been out, and I totally get that. Being completely out of it, though, I didn't necessarily see that coming. But that's not my decision. As players it's our job to do whatever coaches see best, so at this point that's what it is."
Nash said he appreciated Griffin's professionalism, and hinted at a possible return at some point.
"Well, I feel for him," Nash said. "That's not easy. You know it's tough when you go through a rough stretch of play and the world kind of caves in on you a little bit. I've been there and understand it. We have to give other guys an opportunity at this point, but Blake's had a great attitude. I really admire him for being positive through this and keeping himself ready so if his opportunity comes back, he can have an impact."
Through 17 games this season, Griffin is averaging 5.5 points and 4.9 rebounds, while shooting 31.6 percent from the field and 16.1 percent from 3-point land. Unsurprisingly, that would be the worst scoring and shooting season of his career by some margin.
As Nash mentioned, this is, first and foremost, just a bummer. Every player reaches a point where they just aren't themselves anymore, and it's never fun to watch it happen in real-time -- especially with a guy like Griffin who at his peak was one of the best athletes in recent memory. But the Nets are trying to win a title this season, and they can't afford to gift Griffin minutes just because of his resume.