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|Can Blake Griffin make the next leap in his offensive development? The ball is in his court.|
|Chris Paul runs the show, but Paul wouldn't be in Lob City if Blake Griffin wasn't a main attraction.|
“But rather than making things easier, the extra time and space only seem to confound him. Griffin excels in situations that require mostly athleticism and strength -- dunks, put-backs, fast breaks more dunks. Put him in areas that require more refined basketball moves though, and his movements look clunky and unnatural, like he's thinking about his form instead of the shot. Griffin agrees. "Part of the thing on improving that for me is, when I know I'm open, just catch and shoot, not even think about whether I should shoot or not," he said, adding later that his goal is for his shot to be more "natural reaction." The same problem persists at the free throw line, where his percentage has dipped below 60 percent on the season, and in the post, where his points per possession have dipped slightly (from 0.9 to 0.87) despite rising from No. 67 to 38 in Synergy Sports' rankings. Griffin has developed a few worthwhile moves down low, but you can often see the gears turning as he attempts to execute them, his motions more a part of a coach-drilled routine than a response to what the defense is giving him. Like with his shooting stroke, the inability to rely on his explosiveness -- in this case, because of a lack of space -- often saps the speed, confidence and effectiveness with which he plays in other situations. Everything else on the floor comes so natural, so quick -- including the type of post-call complaints and bewildered facial expressions that only 14-year veteran Tim Duncan can rival. Everywhere else he's a star, his deadpan delivery in Kia commercials (he's a natural on that stage too, of course) often entertaining the Staples Center crowd when his vicious slams aren't. Griffin only needs to figure out how to find the fast-forward button in the nooks of his game that don't come to him so easily. Or perhaps we need to find the pause. Everything Griffin needs to succeed outside and up close appear to be there: the strength to muscle his way closer to the basket, a quick spin to roll away from contact, a shooting form straight out of an instructional video. All he may need from us is the one thing we now ask him to get a better grip on: patience. That may tough. With the Clippers' division lead down to just one game with 19 contests on the horizon in the month of March alone, including five straight on the road over the next week, they need all the star power they can get on the offensive end to counterbalance a defense still ranked in the bottom third of the league. I guess having Paul around will have to do for now. That one's an easy value judgment. Justin Verrier is an NBA editor for ESPN.com.
We need him to make it. He's so good on the move with his athleticism that, as he feels more comfortable to make that shot, he almost becomes unguardable at times.” -- Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro