The Clippers have posted some good video of Blake Griffin’s workout last Saturday on their Youtube channel. Griffin’s athleticism jumps off the screen, and he moves confidently, even away from the basket. The part of Griffin’s game that needs to most work — by his own admission — is his jump shot. There’s a heaviness and lumbering quality to Griffin’s shooting form that belies his agility as a big man, something he’s already working to improve.
David Thorpe has worked with numerous top pros and prospects at the Pro Training Center at IMG. I sent him the video of the workout to find out how he’d instruct Griffin to polish his shot:
First of all, the good news: He really has no idea how to shoot the ball, save a few small but important details. That’s good news because he’ll still make shots thanks to his natural talent and feel. It’s clear he has not taken many jumpers in his life, also good news, because he’s too good racking ass in the paint. Without doubt, and with hours of practice, there’s every reason to believe he’ll be a fine shooter, and perhaps an excellent one. With a work ethic as strong as I hear he has, the hours of practice, a prerequisite for success in shooting for most players, seems a given.
Now the details:
For starters, he hunches his back before he catches the ball. Undoubtedly because he’s been taught to (it’s not natural). But bent knees are important, not a bent back. The straightening of the back during the shot is not optimal, nor is the movement of the head going backwards either, as it most assuredly does when the back goes from bent to straight. The vision center in our brain is in the back of it, and moving the head backwards risks sending the brain (sitting in fluid in our skulls) into the skull. At worst, it’s very disorienting (try moving your head back and forth a few times, or once quickly), and at best it can not be of any help. Better to have a stabilized head and therefore, brain. This is easily fixed.
On the catch he always sets the ball first, dropping it down and getting his hand on top of it before bringing it back into his shooting pocket and starting his shot. It makes for a very slow release, and a tougher one to repeat exactly the same every time. Of course, it also makes it easier to deflect for the defender. It’s best to try and get the shooting hand below the ball on the catch and get right into the shooting mechanic.
Next issue is his overall balance. Rarely does he land the same way twice, and oftentimes he actually leans backwards on the shot (think Vince Carter). That is fine when he needs to add a slight fade, but it does not appear that was his intent on the clips I watched. Straight up and down is the goal. Landing off balance typically means he started off balance. He needs to work on getting set with his feet and legs and then lifting straight up. And I like guys landing with what I call active legs, not heavy ones. Bouncing in place once or twice even. It helps with balance issues and also with utilizing the legs to begin with (most missed shots are missed short, and most of the time it’s a leg issue-with good shooters anyway).
He did a poor job directing his shooting arm and hand directly towards the rim, instead it went to the right. It’s a common problem, amazingly enough. I’ve had to work with Earl Clark and DeJuan Blair on this issue.