PLAYA VISTA, Calif. – In this series, Clippers.com takes a look back at the 2014-15 season for each member of the Clippers’ roster and looks forward to the offseason and what may be in store for 2015-16. The next installment in our series of player capsules is on power forward Blake Griffin.
Triple-doubles for Griffin in the postseason. Griffin had only one double-double during the 2013-14 postseason. He followed that up a year later with nine double-doubles and three triple-doubles during the 2014-15 playoffs, becoming one of seven players to record three or more triple-doubles in a postseason since 1985-86. Griffin had two triple-doubles in the Spurs series, including one in the Game 7 win. He began the second-round series against the Rockets on the same note with 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists in Game 1.
Griffin’s assists per game during the playoffs. Griffin had never averaged four or more assists per game during a regular season before averaging 5.3 assists per game during the 2014-15 season. He ranked first among starting forwards in the Western Conference with 354 assists in the regular season, and he followed that up by averaging 6.1 assists per game in the playoffs, marking the third most of any power forward in NBA history during the course of a postseason.
The career-high number of mid-range shots hit by Blake Griffin during the 2014-15 season. Griffin made a concerted effort to expand his jump-shooting abilities, and he showed that off by shooting a career-high 40.3 percent on mid-range jumpers this season. His previous high was a 37.2 percent mark from the 2011-12 season, when he made just 108 mid-range shots. Griffin hit 172 mid-range shots in 2013-14.
Griffin’s numbers were right in line with what he’s done the past couple seasons, with a minor downswing in rebounds per game and a major upswing in his assists per game. But it was in the playoffs that Griffin’s numbers soared to a level never before seen in anyone other than Oscar Robertson. Griffin and Robertson are the only two players in NBA history to average at least 25 points, 12 rebounds and six assists per game in a single postseason.
Griffin averaged 21.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game during the 2014-15 regular season before watching those numbers jump to 25.5, 12.7 and 6.1, respectively, in the playoffs. Griffin continued to establish himself as one of the top players in the game. On April 11, he recorded his 8,000th career point, becoming one of only two active players along with Tim Duncan to score 8,000 points and record 3,500 rebounds in fewer than 375 career games.
Griffin was again invited to be a starter at the All-Star Game, but he couldn’t attend after getting surgery on his elbow to remove a staph infection. That injury sidelined Griffin for the only 15 games he missed during the regular season, but the rest of the Clippers kept the team afloat in his absence, going 9-6 in that span.
Despite the injury holding him out, Griffin still finished the season as the only player in the NBA to average at least 21.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and five assists per game for the season. Those numbers got even better in the playoffs, but Griffin didn’t hide his disappointment with how that ended.
“I think guys were, in a good way, guys were pressing and trying to get it done,” Griffin said. “That’s not to say it was any type of selfishness. Myself included, we wanted it so bad that we didn’t make the plays we normally do.”
Any one of Griffin’s three postseason triple-doubles could be included here, but his most dominant performance may have come earlier in the year when he beat the buzzer from deep to send the Suns home in December.
Griffin scored a season-high 45 points, the last three coming on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that at first look flat and off. But he was so on all night that the shot hit the rim, grazed the backboard and went through to give the Clippers a one-point win at home on Dec. 8. Griffin had already started to demonstrate his improved shot, but going 14-for-24 from the field, 15-of-17 from the line and 2-for-2 from deep while craving the final shot in the waning seconds of the game against Phoenix demonstrated Griffin’s expanded game.
“You just have the confidence to take a shot like that,” Griffin said afterward. “The thing about it is after every timeout, after every score, teammates and coaches keep feeding me that confidence. That’s huge to have my teammates always feel like I have to be aggressive and keep going.”
Along with Paul, Griffin’s one of two superstar players the Clippers have locked up and don’t need to worry about re-signing this offseason. Griffin’s contract runs through the 2017-18 season, when he and Paul both have early termination options.
In addition to taking care of his body to prepare for the year, Griffin spent a majority of last offseason working on his jump shot, something he continued to do throughout the season with shooting coach Bob Thate. It paid off, and that’ll likely be something Griffin will try to continue to perfect heading into the 2015-16 year. As disappointed as he was not to get to the Western Conference Finals, Griffin’s message offered optimism when asked about a “Clipper curse” after the Game 7 loss to Houston.
“The Clipper curse when I first got here was No. 1 picks getting hurt, not working out, their draft picks not working out, not making the playoffs, not having winning seasons,” Griffin said. “No one talked about not getting past the second round. Not a single soul talked about that, but now, that’s what everybody talks about. Just like the last one, we’re going to bust through this one.”