Eric Patten | 7/1/12

Previous Player Capsules:
  • Caron Butler
  • DeAndre Jordan
  • Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie
  • Ryan Gomes
  • Eric Bledsoe
  • Over the next two weeks, with help from Assistant Coach for Player Development Dave Severns will take an individual look at the Clippers' eight players currently under contract for the 2012-13 season, briefly review their 2011-12 contributions, and give an indication of what Head Coach Vinny Del Negro, Severns, and the rest of the front office and coaching staff have in mind for the summer.

    Blake Griffin

    Blake Griffin completed his second NBA season five weeks ago, but in some ways it seems as though he's been putting up historic numbers much longer.

    In 148 regular season games, Griffin has averaged better than 21 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists. He's in a class with the first two years of all-time greats David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Tim Duncan. His 103 double-doubles in two seasons are the fourth-highest since 1986-87. He was the only player in the league in 2011-12 to score more than 20 points with 10.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists and only Dwight Howard and Griffin went for 20 and 10 and shot better than 54% from the floor.

    Gallery | Blake Griffin: 2011-12 Season
    As a 23-year-old pro, he's established himself as a franchise cornerstone, two-time All-Star, and helped lead the Clippers into the postseason for the first time since 2006. He's put up numbers and piled up accolades and was referred to by a rival Western Conference scout as "one of the greatest young men I've ever met in my life."

    Take Griffin's 2011-12 season, a whirlwind in which he appeared in all 77 games for the Clippers, including his final six playoff games with a left knee injury that left him hobbled. His points per game and rebounding numbers slightly declined from his rookie year. However, the Clippers achieved the best winning percentage in franchise history with only their second playoff series victory since arriving in Los Angeles in 1984, and Griffin was selected second team All-NBA.

    There were the infamous dunks over Kendrick Perkins and Pau Gasol; the acrobatic moves to the rim in which would spin off a defender draw contact and finish while tumbling to the floor. He was tough, explosive, and often dominant.

    In Game 3 of the Clippers' series against the Spurs, he threw in 14 first quarter points, outscoring San Antonio on his own. He wound up with 28 points and 16 rebounds. The following night, when the Clippers' season ultimately ended, the lasting image was a bearded Griffin with a bandage covering four stitches from where his tooth went through his upper lip following a second-quarter collision with Manu Ginobili.

    As Griffin sat at the dais he was asked if there was any solace in knowing they lost to what many believed was the "best team on the planet at the moment."

    "Nope. Not at all," Griffin said, shaking his head and straightening his red tie. "They're a great team, not taking anything away from them. They played extremely well, but it doesn't make us feel any better. There's nothing about that that you can feel good about. We need to get to work this summer and be prepared."

    The Plan

    Griffin's summer work has already started. He begins training with USA Basketball on July 5 in Las Vegas, with the Olympic camp lasting through July 12 and the basketball portion of the London Games beginning 16 days later. With 16 players attempting to fill out 12 slots on the roster, Griffin's chances of making the squad are increasingly high and it's something Clippers personnel believes would be tremendous for Griffin's growth as a player.

    "Blake will go really, really hard through the Olympics and then take off until about early September," Severns said. "I think the best thing that could happen for him would be the Olympic experience. If he were able to make USA Basketball, which we think he has a good chance to do, it would really help his defense because the guys that are on that team are going to hold him accountable defensively."

    Griffin's historic first two seasons:
    2010-11 82 38.0 50.6 64.2 3.3 12.1 3.8 22.5
    2011-12 66 36.2 54.9 52.1 3.3 10.9 3.2 20.7
    Griffin got back in the gym after taking a couple of weeks off immediately following the team's playoff exit on May 20. He's been in Playa Vista for most of June, concentrating on improving his individual and team defense.

    Shooting from outside of the paint in first two seasons:
    10-15 feet 16-23 feet
    2010-11 0.5-1.5 (32.5%) 1.0-3.1 (33%)
    2011-12 0.2-0.7 (27.7%) 1.5-3.9 (37%)
    "There are things that I've been working on with our coaching staff already to improve in that area," Griffin said. "You have to get creative [without live in-game situations]. There are always pickup games out here, but it's tough because it's not really designed to help you play defense. You just have to make a conscious effort out there to do it."

    Offensively, Severns said, the team is looking for Griffin to improve his free throw shooting, which dipped to 52.1% last season, more than 12% worse than his rookie year. Part of that will be working with a shooting coach, which according to Severns will allow Griffin to "hear one voice as far as his shooting."

    "We've obviously got to improve his free throw shooting," Severn said. "We've got to get him more comfortable with his mid-range jump shot and refine and develop his low post, back-to-the-basket game."

    Griffin added: "I'm doing a lot of footwork stuff and I'm doing a lot of stuff on the move and making sure I catch it and make a move or catch it going to the goal."

    Related Articles:
  • The "Dunk of the Year"
  • Griffin makes most of 10 minutes
  • Winning helps Griffin have "fun" again
  • Griffin and Clippers out-muscle Grizzlies in Game 3
  • Big game versus Spurs not enough
  • Best of 2011-12: Griffin's top 10 dunks
  • In the past, Griffin has mentioned potential Olympic teammate and Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony as one player he's watched film on. And like many great players, Griffin continues to find facets of competitors' games that he can integrate into his own arsenal.

    In Severns' mind that's one of the best things about the Clippers' young superstar: he knows exactly what he needs to do to get better.

    "I want to make sure that going into training camp back here [in Los Angeles] that I'm in the best shape possible," Griffin said. "I'm going to work on the things I need to work on and put myself in a position to improve throughout [next] season."

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