GRIFFIN "FEELS GREAT" HEADING INTO CAMP
The Clippers All-Star spent the offseason rehabilitating his left knee, working on his jump shot with shooting coach Bob Thate, and refining his post game.
Blake Griffin spent more than 10 minutes surrounded by cameras and reporters at the interview table during Clippers Media Day, but in a matter of seconds he put to rest any concerns about his surgically repaired left knee.
“I feel great. I’m ready to go,” Griffin said. “I don’t have any restrictions, which was what I pretty much hoped for and knew it was coming, but in the back of my mind it’s always better to be safe than sorry.”
Griffin underwent surgery in July to repair a medial meniscus tear, and has been back on the court for several weeks.
He spent a significant portion of the summer, along with frontcourt mate DeAndre Jordan, under the tutelage of new Clippers shooting coach Bob Thate. While Griffin improved his field goal percentage in year two (50.6% in 2010-11 to 54.9% last season), his free throw numbers unexpectedly fell. The two-time All-Star said his time with Thate was divided between work on the perimeter and the line.
“I spent a lot of time on my shot,” he said. “I really kind of changed some things up and I’m hoping to keep improving on those results. It’s not one of those things where I think I’m going to be a great shooter over night, but I think I have the tools and I’ve got to working and keep practicing the right way.”
Thate, who previously spent four seasons as the shooting coach for the New Jersey Nets, helped make Griffin’s shot more consistent.“We changed some stuff to kind of streamline it and be less error prone,” Griffin added. “Really, just making sure that I’m doing the same thing every single time.”
To an extent, Griffin’s injury presented a bit of silver lining. He was forced to miss the 2012 Summer Olympics and the opportunity to win his first Gold Medal, but managed to spend additional time on his individual game.
“It was kind of one of those things that you take for granted that you’re going to be in and you’re going to play,” he said about Team USA. “Once I got hurt, I was really disappointed but at the same time I was able to come back, take care of this and focus on this season and put a lot of time into improving on the things I felt like I needed to.”
In addition to his work with Thate, Griffin made a point of refining his low-post game, which included managing his shot selection, varying moves, and gaining a better feel for what the defense is doing to stop him.
“Despite what people say, I think I do have some post moves,” Griffin said somewhat satirically. “It’s just a matter of really taking my time and not rushing into things, not going to the same thing every time and really showing that.”
So far Griffin’s work has paid off. Veteran forward Grant Hill was among several teammates who said they noticed improvements in Griffin and Jordan this summer.
“I think first of all, when you’re a young player, if you work hard and you’re dedicated, you’re going to get better,” Hill said. “From what I’ve seen they’ve [Jordan and Griffin] improved. Blake is shooting the ball better from range and from the perimeter, his moves in the post look better.”
With camp opening Sept. 29, Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro was asked whether he would reserve any caution with the notoriously hard-working Griffin. “He’s going to run through the wall, jump over the basket, do whatever he’s got to do. He’s ready to go.
“He had a great summer in terms of his initial Olympic experience, then the injury, had the surgery, and he’s been cleared with everything. He’s been working out, passed his conditioning test, he’s in great shape. He’s really worked hard on his game this summer in the post and shooting and things. Blake’s ready to go, trust me.”