LOW MINUTES FOR PAUL AND GRIFFIN WILL BENEFIT CLIPS IN LONGTERM
PLAYA VISTA – Sixty-four players in the NBA have played more minutes than Chris Paul, eight others have seen more court time per game than Blake Griffin.
With the well-documented, as yet unnamed, bench corps that goes six deep even without Chauncey Billups or Grant Hill available, the Clippers (6-2) have an unprecedented luxury of using their stars less.
And the best part: both Griffin and Paul seem to embrace it.
Paul has been asked about if playing 32.6 minutes per game as opposed to his 36.9 career average will be beneficial in the long run, to which he replied: “No question.”
Griffin, who has also averaged 36.9 minutes through 156 career games, agreed saying, “Coming off a back-to-back or whatever it is, there were definitely games last year where we were playing 38-40 minutes and then you’ve got to turn around and play another 36-38 minutes again. It wears on you and it wears on you down the stretch of the season, so I’m interested to see how it is come February and March, not having played as many minutes throughout the season.”
In eight games, Head Coach Vinny Del Negro has on four occasions used Griffin fewer than 31 minutes. Barring foul trouble that rarely happened over the course of last season’s rigorous 66-game compacted schedule. Griffin played 36.2 minutes per game in 2011-12, down to 31.8 this year.
The most obvious factor in the reduction in both Paul and Griffin’s playing time has been the emergence of a bench that’s scoring better than 40 points per game.
“If the second unit is out there playing well, and we can get those guys rest (Griffin and Paul), then the big picture is hopefully they’re fresher with the minutes that they get,” Del Negro said. “We have a good solid team, good veterans. I’m comfortable with that.”
GRIFFIN CONTINUES TO HAVE ALL-AROUND IMPACT
Despite numbers that are not quite on par with his first two seasons, Griffin is perhaps making a bigger all-around impact. He’s averaging 16.3 points and 9.0 rebounds with career-highs in assists (3.9) and steals (1.3). And while eight games hardly make a season, Griffin’s improvement on the defensive end, shooting from range, and at the free throw line (65.1% from 52.1% last year) are all positive signs.
“I’m working on my overall game,” Griffin said. “And working on small things to help our team and trying to play better defense and all that.”