Blake Griffin Should Pull a LeBron James in Road to Recovery


Source: (Hashtag Basketball - Brian Han)

(LOS ANGELES, Calif.) -- It was another lost year for Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin.

The last came during his 2009 rookie season when he missed the entire year with a fractured knee cap.

He returned with a ferocious drive to prove himself that led to 27 consecutive double-doubles -- enough to break a franchise record and to set the longest streak for a rookie since 1968.

His response when the run ended?

"Now, I can start a new one," he told reporters after the game.

His list of accomplishments goes on and on. But really every year the Clippers don't make it past the second round of the playoffs, it counts as a lost year and as potential not realized.

If anyone feels the pain more than Griffin, it's teammate Chris Paul who at age 31 can't seem to lead his team deep into the postseason.

The Clippers' biggest headlines from the 2015-16 season revolve around Paul's unceremonious exit in the first round with a broken hand alongside Griffin's reaggravation of a left quadricep tendon tear in the same game -- an injury that kept him out for over 50 games during the regular season.

“The activity that caused it, is unfortunately the way [Griffin] makes his living,” T.O. Souryal, former president of the NBA Physicians Assn. told the Los Angeles Times.

By "activity," the doctor is referring to Blake vaulting himself over other world-class athletes using brute strength.

But the 27-year-old evolved. He developed finesse by incorporating deft footwork and a reliable jump shot into his repertoire.

Even though the new approach put less stress on his body, his left quad injury managed to creep into the picture at the onset of his prime.

That's an alarming indication of the unforgiving reality laid out for professional athletes.

Luckily, after undergoing a successful surgery to repair the tendon last week, he will most likely recover fully despite having to miss Team USA's training camp this summer.

As an obligatory disclaimer, I should mention that I am not a doctor, but we can all agree Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin is one big dude.

6-foot-10, 250 pounds of lean muscle, a 35.5 inch vertical leap (measured at the combine) and agility that allows him to play small forward in addition to his usual place at the four.

But for an NBA player he has a wingspan measuring under seven feet, and although that seems pretty normal, in comparison to his contemporaries, it means he has to do more to compensate for his shorter arms.

For example, other current players of similar height like Dwight Howard (6-foot-10) and Chris Bosh (6-foot-11) have wingspans of 7-foot-4.5 and 7-foot-3.5 inches, respectively.

That's why he needs to jump so high. It's not necessarily for show. It allows him to level the playing field by being able elevate to the point where his head reaches the rim.




But something needs to change and he should take note from fellow NBA superstar and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James. Otherwise, he could end up sitting out another season with built up frustrations that get taken out on an assistant equipment manager's face.

Granted, James has had the ability to stay freakishly healthy throughout his 13 seasons as one of the world's premier athletes -- a gift bestowed upon the chosen few -- but that's a conversation for another time.

The Cavs' linchpin lost something like 25 pounds in the 2014 offseason before returning to "The Land" as he likes to call it (and so many like to satirize).

So how did that impact his performance on the court?

Well, funny enough, most of his regular season numbers dipped including his scoring and rebounds average, field-goal percentage and his minutes per game, which came in at a career-low 36.1 -- a figure that decreased a bit more this year.

LeBron James - Regular Season Statistics

Season Age Tm G GS MP FG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTSY
 Season      Age Tm             G       GS      MP       FG%       FT%       TRB       AST       STL        BLK      TOV         PPG
2003-04 19 CLE 79 79 39.5 .417 .754 5.5 5.9 1.6 0.7 3.5 20.9
2004-05 ? 20 CLE 80 80 42.4 .472 .750 7.4 7.2 2.2 0.7 3.3 27.2
2005-06 ? 21 CLE 79 79 42.5 .480 .738 7.0 6.6 1.6 0.8 3.3 31.4
2006-07 ? 22 CLE 78       78 40.9 .476 .698 6.7 6.0 1.6 0.7 3.2 27.3
2007-08 ? 23 CLE 75 74 40.4 .484        .712 7.9 7.2 1.8 1.1 3.4 30.0
2008-09 ? 24 CLE 81 81 37.7 .489 .780 7.6 7.2 1.7 1.1 3.0 28.4
2009-10 ? 25 CLE 76 76 39.0 .503 .767 7.3 8.6 1.6 1.0 3.4 29.7
2010-11 ? 26 MIA 79 79 38.8 .510 .759 7.5 7.0 1.6 0.6 3.6 26.7
2011-12 ? 27 MIA 62 62 37.5 .531 .771 7.9 6.2 1.9 0.8 3.4 27.1
2012-13 ? 28 MIA 76 76 37.9 .565 .753 8.0 7.3 1.7 0.9 3.0 26.8
2013-14 ? 29 MIA 77 77 37.7 .567 .750 6.9 6.3 1.6 0.3 3.5 27.1
2014-15 ? 30 CLE 69 69 36.1 .488 .710 6.0 7.4 1.6 0.7 3.9 25.3
2015-16 ? 31 CLE 76 76 35.6 .520 .731 7.4 6.8 1.4 0.6 3.3 25.3
Career 987 986 39.0 .498 .744 7.2 6.9 1.7 0.8 3.4 27.2
9 seasons CLE 693 692 39.4 .481 .739 7.0 7.0 1.7 0.8 3.4 27.3
4 seasons MIA 294 294 38.0 .543 .758 7.6 6.7 1.7 0.7 3.4 26.9


It also coincided with the fact that he was in his 12th full season at the time. The 31-year-old had been running like a freight train for the majority of it. People age and their performances regress. No news there.

But if you look deeper at his per-36 minutes stats, he improved in assists (7.4 career high) and shot more three-pointers (4.9 career high in the 2015-16 regular season).

Without delving into too many stats, his game changed along with his physique.

Less weight meant less stress on his legs, and it also became clear that the regular season became less of a priority for him.

He was essentially saving himself for the postseason, and more specifically, for the NBA finals.

How else can you explain his ability to shoulder a team without its number two and three scoring options in guard Kyrie Irving and forward Kevin Love who were both out due to injuries in the 2015 postseason?

LeBron revved up his engine and averaged 45.7 minutes per game during the Finals that year. On top of that he scored 35.8 points per game in addition to 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game. The majority of the games felt like watching James playing with four teammates, who acted more like glorified spectators.



That series shouldn't have even gone to six quite honestly and most people would agree.

His Finals performance may go down as one of the most memorable ever despite losing to the Golden State Warriors. (One more highlight just for kicks)



Although LeBron may be unparalleled for his all-around game in conjunction with his year-after-year consistency, it has a lot to do with his health.

Griffin should take note because both players have similarities in physicality and grace.

Whether that means losing weight to reduce stress on his high-mileage legs or becoming more of a facilitator (although who needs to do that when you've got Chris Paul), it will brighten up his future as well as that of the supposedly cursed Clippers.

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