You know who Blake Griffin is for one reason, above all: He’s one of the most spectacular athletes the NBA has ever seen. The Los Angeles Clippers forward made an immediate impression in his 2010-11 rookie season and has only increased in skill and popularity since. No one this side of Michael Jordan has been so prolific in the art of posterizing other players. Just ask: Timofey Mozgov, Kendrick Perkins and Kris Humphries.
That list could go on and on, but our time is finite and the narrative on Griffin has gone to more interesting, subtle places anyways. In 2013-14, his game expanded to include more ball-handling, mid-range shooting and passing. Griffin thrived with added responsibility under new coach Doc Rivers and showed that he’s one of the very best players in the game — that he’s a versatile talent who should be known for more than just his YouTube-friendly pyrotechnics at the rim. He finished third in MVP voting for the year, just behind the untoppable LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
And if Griffin’s preseason debut is any indication, his evolution was only beginning last season. He put on a shooting display in a home loss to the Golden State Warriors, collecting 24 points and 12 rebounds on 9-of-17 shooting, stretching the defense in ways that should have the rest of the league on notice.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul is approaching his thirtieth birthday next spring, and the team also lost some bench depth over the summer with the departures of Darren Collison, Danny Granger and Jared Dudley. But the young Griffin’s ascendance gives Clippers fans more than enough cause for hope. A player of his stature can shift the power balance of the NBA for years and years to come. On Blake’s back, the red-and-blue are in as good a shape as anyone going forward.
— John Wilmes