This is the 12th player in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until next week, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.
We started with Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, moved on to Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and continued with Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young, Mo Williams, Caron Butler and DeAndre Jordan. Now, we do Blake Griffin.
2011-2012 contributions: Griffin built on a highlight-heavy rookie season with a similarly highlight-heavy sophomore season. He made his second straight All-Star team, starting for the first time, and helped the Clippers advance to the second round of the playoffs for only the third time in franchise history. He is the face of the franchise and the foundation of the Clippers’ rebuilding process. He was the reason the Clippers went out and acquired Chris Paul, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups in the offseason and re-signed DeAndre Jordan. The idea is if the Clippers build a winner, Griffin won’t flee when he’s a free agent like most big-name Clippers players have in the past. While Griffin saw a dip in his numbers across the board in his second season, most noticeably at the free-throw line, he had one of the better seasons for a frontcourt player in the NBA. He was one of two players to average at least 20.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and shoot 54.0 percent from the field.
2012-2013 prediction: Griffin has a big decision to make this summer on his future, and all indications are that he will stay with the Clippers long-term. The Clippers can offer Griffin a maximum five-year extension worth between $75 million and $95 million on July 1 and Griffin will likely accept it soon after the Clippers officially offer it. When Griffin re-signs with the team, the focus will shift toward improving his game, which regressed in his second season. Griffin will be the first to admit he has to improve his free throw shooting and he has to develop a more consistent midrange game. Although that will take time to develop, there really is no excuse for Griffin to be so poor from the free-throw line. He was a 64.2 percent free-throw shooter in his rookie season and dropped to 52.1 percent this season. Griffin said he watches film on Karl Malone all the time, and maybe he would be best served to study how Malone went from an average free-throw shooter in his first two seasons in the league to consistently shooting about 70 percent. Chances are Griffin won’t get as many hard fouls if he is shooting at that clip from line next season.