Blake Griffin, he of the max contract and frequent injury, got traded from the Clippers to the Pistons this week, and as he begins his career in Detroit, the question must be asked…is he actually any good?
And not just “is he a good basketball player”. Any fool can see that. He’s athletic, strong, a massive improvement over just about any power forward in the game today.
But that’s not the point of the question. This week, we ask the question a different way:
Is Blake Griffin worth his max-level contract, or is he a massively overpaid cap albatross who will sink the Pistons’ efforts to improve enough to reach the playoffs consistently?
In other words, is a guy making superstar money a superstar? Let’s get to the numbers:
The Counting Stats
Griffin is shooting a career-low 44.1 percent, hasn’t improved his three-point percentage despite shooting 5.7 a game when he’d previously never shot more than two (he’s at 34.2 percent on them), is a poor rebounder for his size at 8.3 per 36 minutes, has developed a case of butter fingers with three turnovers a game (a career-high), but at least his scoring is up; his 22.6 points per game is the second-highest total of his career.
But lest you believe that his lower shooting percentage is a simple function of all those threes he’s jacking up, consider that his two-point shooting is at a career low as well; at 48.8 percent, it’s the worst he’s posted in eight years in the league, and his eFG%, which you’d think would hold fairly steady with even mediocre three-point shooting, stands at a career-worst .497.
And did we mention Griffin turns 29 in March? By the time his contract is done, he’ll be 33. Have fun with that, Detroit.
The Advanced Stats
But wait, there’s more! His 20.7 PER is also a career-worst, his 12.6 rebounding percentage is the second-worst of his career, his .133 WS/48 is the worst it’s ever been, his defense is down to league average at a 0.1 DBPM, his VORP is comparable to the 2016 season in which he played only 35 games (and oh by the way he’s only played in 33 games this year due to injury), his midrange jump shot has fallen off a cliff (26.5 percent between 10 and 16 feet and 20.5 percent between 16 feet and the three-point line), he’s hitting only 25 percent of corner threes (and only getting assisted on 73.4 percent of them), and his finishing inside the restricted area is also the worst it’s ever been.
Plus, the Clippers, by net rating, are only 1.5 points per 100 possessions better with Griffin on the floor compared to when he sits.
And adding insult to injury, his usage rate is also the second-highest it’s ever been; with Chris Paul gone, Griffin has had to do more with the ball.
The Detroit Pistons do not have Chris Paul. They do not have anyone who even faintly resembles Chris Paul. Griffin is going to have the same problem with a limited-skills center and no effective ball distributor that he had in Los Angeles.
Sure, Andre Drummond is better than DeAndre Jordan, but how much better, really? Both guys are volume rebounders who get their points at the rim. There’s no room for Griffin in there in a four-out offense.
And once again, Griffin is turning the ball over more often than he has in his entire career.
Blake Griffin is none of those people. In terms of advanced stats, he’s a good but not great NBA-starter-level power forward, nothing more.
So is Blake Griffin a superstar, worth the money and worth the fame?
Not by a long shot. This one is capital-B Busted.