Blake Griffin’s second season wasn’t the smashing success his first season was. Alright, well there were plenty of smashes on other players’ faces but his second season certainly wasn’t as well received as his first. He didn’t have this vast improvement that everyone said he needed to have and he gained a reputation as either a cry baby, a flopper or both. So the expectations grew, his game didn’t as much and since he wasn’t the hot new thing people began to pick his game apart. For a guy who can’t shoot, doesn’t defend and is undersized for his position, he’s off to a pretty amazing start to his career.
Still, as Yahoo!’s Johnny Ludden writes, Griffin’s bank account is about to grow by leaps and bounds due to a contract extension (he’s technically in his third season) and for his sake and the Clippers’, his game better not be too far behind.
“Nothing less than the Clippers’ future depends on Griffin returning next season with a more versatile, more complete, skill set. Chris Paul limped through another loss to the Spurs, his injured hip contributing to another dozen missed shots. “We have to do a better job of helping him,” Griffin said afterward, and that includes beyond the remainder of this series.”
There are many uncertainties about this upcoming offseason. Will Deron Williams resign in Brooklyn or go somewhere else? Will Dwight Howard follow Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith out the door in Orlando? Will the Heat rethink this three stars thing if they don’t win a title? Two things are certain though. Anthony Davis is going to be the number one pick in this June’s NBA Draft and Blake Griffin is going to get a max-extension offer from the Clippers. It’s a no-brainer.
Griffin and Kevin Love are the only two players in basketball that averaged 20 points and ten rebounds per game. That’s a pretty good starting point for Griffin who still has a ton of work to do on his game. He could still use a couple of post moves and a consistent jumper and while he’s likely to never be an elite defender, that could certainly use some improvement as well. Still, Griffin’s raw ability makes him a top five power forward already.
How much he develops is up to him, but getting taken to school by a guy like Tim Duncan is a good example for him on what kind of mentality he should learn to play with. Having a guy like Chris Paul as a teammate will serve as a good example of what working hard to improve your game in the offseason should look like. Fair or not that contract extension is only going to put more pressure on Griffin to improve but right now it seems like he’s in a better position than most to live up to the hype that he’s garnered so far.