One out of four.
One out of every four dollars that the Detroit Pistons are spending on this year’s roster is going to Blake Griffin; the superstar that was one out four players in all of the NBA to finish last year with at least 20 points, 7 boards, and 5 assists per game. He shares that accomplishment with DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James. Blake has the tools and the desire to be the number one option for a team, and when healthy Blake Griffin has been a top 10-15 talent in the NBA. But don’t just take my word for it - during his last four healthy seasons, Blake has been 2nd team ALL-NBA three times and 3rd team ALL-NBA once. While he doesn’t get viewed as an elite talent, his resumé has been impressive and earned him a shot to lead a team. So how do the Pistons succeed in a weak Eastern Conference with Blake at the helm?
Blake needs to be the best player on the court in a Pistons jersey almost every night. There will be nights that Andre Drummond is able to carry the load, but his game is far from complete. While he has been one of the best rebounders in the league during his first six years, his game resembles a traditional center. He can run the high pick and roll great, but can’t put the ball on the floor well and has almost no jump shot. The Pistons just don’t have the star power to really relieve pressure off of Griffin. Blake is the alpha on the Pistons, which will live and die with the success of his game.
To lead Detroit to the playoffs for the second time in ten years, Blake will have to improve as a decision maker. Since joining Detroit his player efficiency rating is the lowest it’s been in his career. Why is that? Mostly because of Blake’s shot selection. During his tenure in LA, Blake averaged less than one shot per game from behind the arc, compared to over five shots per game from that range in a Pistons jersey. Detroit has added multiple shooters around Blake in the last few months including Glenn Robinson III and Khyri Thomas. These new additions mixed with Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard should decrease Griffin’s need to be the go-to sharpshooter. Blake’s focus should be playing from the inside the three point line, with the ability to kick it out or shoot it from three, if needed. I have no issues with Griffin taking some threes, but he must shoot responsibly.
This year, Pistons fans will keep a close eye on the Clippers. They will be tracking the success of Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and contemplating whether or not the trade was worth it. I’m sure any Pistons fan will tell you exactly how they felt on January 29th when Detroit made the trade that would shape their team for the next five years, but day dreaming won’t do much good. Pistons fans will keep an eye on players like Paul George, Kevin Durant, and James Harden, all who will collect less money than Griffin this year. Pistons fans will keep an eye on the team’s biggest superstar since Allen Iverson wore a Detroit jersey for 54 games in 2008. Pistons fans are looking at you, Blake Griffin. What will you do?
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