Over at Bleacher Report, I wrote a piece about Blake Griffin, Joakim Noah and the race for the third in the MVP voting. Click here to read the whole piece. Here is an excerpt:
Blake currently sits sixth in the NBA in points per game at 24.3. And he’s massively expanded his game over the course of the season.
It all starts with shooting. The shot, it just looks so much better, and everything else trickles down from there.
Why is Griffin going to the free-throw line a career-high 8.4 times per 36 minutes? Because he’s confident he’ll make his attempts from the charity stripe. And he’s doing that at a 70 percent clip.
Why is he so confident facing up defenders for the first time ever, aside from the fact that he specifically focused on improving that aspect of his game over the summer? Because he knows he can counter with a 16′ jumper.
The jump shot is hardly the most essential part of Griffin’s game, but it’s allowed him to change to a more effective style. Blake is now making 2.2 mid-range shots per game, and he’s sinking them at a 38.3 percent clip. The volume and accuracy is almost identical to that of Al Jefferson, one of the more skilled bigs in the NBA.
And he’s still as efficient as ever. His true shooting is a career-high 58.3 percent. Meanwhile, he leads the league in field-goal attempts in the restricted area and is shooting better than 70 percent from there.
Noah can put the ball in the hoop. He can hit his jumpers when he’s open, no matter how ugly they may be, but he isn’t prone to the scoring outbursts we see from Griffin on a nightly basis.
Heck, Blake just scored 20-plus points in 30 consecutive games. No, that number isn’t everything, but over the course of that streak, he posted a 58.5 true shooting. He’s been unleashing an incredible volume of shots but still scoring as efficiently as ever.
That’s part of how the Clippers have maintained their offensive dominance for stretches without Paul and Redick.
Griffin has been absolutely on fire. And the 27.5 points, 4.4 assists and 60.5 true shooting that he posted in a 12-6 stretch without Paul earlier this year only show how dominant he can be when the Clippers run their offense through him.
He’s refined his offensive game so much. “The Flyin’ Lion” isn’t just about dunks anymore. He has so many moves on which he can rely.
Griffin has always had a decent post game, though it’s looked uglier than the results showed. Now, though, he’s started to master the Tim Duncan bank shot.
He’ll face you up. He’ll back you down. He has a stepback and doesn’t hesitate nearly as much when he finds himself in catch-and-shoot situations inside the three-point line.
He’s scored more than 20 points 42 times compared to Noah’s 11. More than 30 13 times while Noah hasn’t even reached that total this year. As scorers, these guys aren’t really comparable. But that’s not Noah’s game.