‘I feel a world of difference’ – Blake Griffin confident knee issues have been overcome
Blake Griffin doesn’t need to go against LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo to gauge the soundness of his surgically repaired left knee. Whenever the Pistons next play again as the NBA adapts to a post-coronavirus world, he’ll be ready to go.
“I’ve done quite a bit on the court and everything I’ve done, I feel a world of difference,” Griffin said Thursday after a workout at the Pistons Performance Center. “I didn’t really have that much push-off last season. I was trying to fight through it, but got that taken care of. Strength is way up.”
Griffin initially hurt his knee late in the 2018-19 season, costing him the first two games of the playoff series with Milwaukee. He came back to close the series but was clearly subpar, then underwent surgery to repair cartilage damage in late April 2019. He was ready for training camp last September, but – as he now admits – the knee was never quite right and hopes that it would gradually improve the farther out he got from surgery didn’t prove true. Eventually, a clean-up surgery was necessary in January, ending his season.
It’s been full speed ahead ever since.
“My main focus is still strengthening and working on explosiveness, but also being smart about it,” he said, adding that he’s been working out six days a week. “Not doing too much, too soon just because, at some point, we will have a long season ahead of us.”
Because of the uncertainty of the 2020-21 NBA calendar with the 2019-20 season not set to conclude until mid-October, Griffin has made tactical amendments to his meticulously diligent off-season conditioning regimen.
“Trying to pace ourselves right now,” he said. “We’re probably looking like, at the earliest, a December start, so trying to balance that out. I did 10 weeks on from mid-March to the end of May, took a week off, and finishing up 11 weeks straight with training right now and then I’ll take a week off. I’m doing a lot in the weight room, doing a lot on the court, but at the same time trying to scale back from time to time to make sure we’re not ramping up too early.”
Griffin’s readiness for next season – whenever it might come – is likely the least of Dwane Casey’s concerns. It’s younger players who are at risk of distractions or losing the mental edge to stay disciplined when the traditional off-season structure has been thrown so far out of whack. Griffin is a sounding board for all those young players on the Pistons roster.
“For the most part, making sure they’re just in the gym,” he said of his guidance to them. “Watching basketball, being around basketball, playing one on one, two on two, whatever it is. I think that’s important for the development of young guys. If you use the time wisely, I think this can work to your advantage. Just being in, working with our coaches, understanding our offense, understanding our defensive principles, understanding the baseline level of knowledge we have year in and year out.
“If you put the work in, that work will show. That’s really been my message. Just put the work in. You’ve got to come every day and not only work hard but take that home with you. Study the game, watch the game form different perspectives and try to advance yourself in this time. For the most part, there’s other guys who are in the exact same boat. The rookies coming in this year don’t have Summer League. They don’t have some of the things we had, so take advantage of this.”