Blake Griffin: The NBA’s Forgotten Superstar
On Blake Griffin, the NBA’s forgotten superstar
The NBA is a notoriously star-driven league, and business is booming. All across the Association, there are immense players wielding tremendous celebrity and sway on and off the court. From Luka Doncic to LeBron James, from Toronto to Oklahoma City, the NBA is loaded with stars.
And yet one of its biggest names has put together an absolute gem of a season, seemingly completely under the radar.
Just a few years removed from being a bonafide super-star, Blake Griffin is quietly having a career year in Detroit. It’s high time we talk about it.
Lob City to Motor City
Once one of the league’s most daunting players and biggest celebrities, Blake Griffin’s profile is considerably lower as a member of the Pistons. But much of this isn’t Blake’s fault.
First things first, Detroit is an average market size with a disinterested fanbase. The team ranks 24th in attendance this season. To compound the problem, the Pistons only landed ten nationally televised games for the year, six of which were aired on NBA TV.
Because of this, few people have been privy to the kind of stellar season Griffin has put together. Perhaps the raincloud of last season still looms large in fans’ minds. The cold-blooded trade and uninspiring, injury-plagued finish to the year was, after all, a lot to digest and a rather dismal fate for one of the league’s top stars.
With Lob City completely dismantled and Blake’s dunking prowess slightly wanning, Griffin’s star status has tumbled. Consider the volume of Google searches for “Blake Griffin” since he entered the league. That final spike on the tail end of the graph is his trade to Detroit. However small a sample size, Griffin’s time in Detroit hasn’t generated nearly that much buzz.
All of the above isn’t to say that the world has completely passed Blake by. Many leading journalists and NBA minds have openly suggested Griffin will land on an All-NBA Team, as he should. And Griffin was an All-Star this year. However that still doesn’t quite capture how intensely good he has been.
His stats across the board are all around or better than anything other season. His leaps in three-point and free throw percentages are particularly impressive. At the time of this writing, he’s made 177 threes on the year, the highest amount in his career and a top-5 number in franchise history for the Pistons.
Blake’s defense has slipped perhaps a tad, but the jumps he’s made on the offensive side of the equation more than make up for it. A 50-point game featuring a game-winning lay up against the Sixers is the exclamation point on an overlooked year from an elite player. The Athletic recently highlighted the mechanics behind Blake’s revolution.
Since the All-Star break, the Pistons are 13-8, the sixth best mark in the entire Association. And since a tumultuous mid-season lapse, Detroit has been steadily climbing the standings in the Eastern Conference. With Griffin at the helm, the Pistons will be a tough out, even for the East’s best.
Blake has appeared in 72 games thus far on the year. In 45 of those contests, he was Detroit’s leading scorer. Not to be out-done, he also logged the most assists for his team in 40 games. Griffin’s been at the center of an offense that ranks fourth in the league since February 1st.
Three Cheers for Blake
Once again, it’s likely that Blake Griffin will land on one of the All-NBA teams. His body of work this season speaks for itself, so long as your willing to listen.
At the same time, however, Griffin is still an outcast stuck in basketball purgatory. Detroit’s roster and future outlooks are glib at the moment. Blake deserves better.
For now, we ought to celebrate the season Griffin has had, and keep an eye out for a valiant effort in the coming postseason. From there, let’s hope Blake gets the help he deserves.