Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin is in a contract year, which means the explosive forward will be as motivated as ever.
This year’s forgotten man in the superstar class in Blake Griffin, whose nightmare 2015-16 season included 47 missed games, an ugly and costly off-court incident, and a postseason run that was abruptly cut short in the first round when both he and Chris Paul suffered season-ending injuries in the same game. The 27-year-old Griffin will enter camp this fall having not been at full health since Christmas 2015, his longest stretch away from the game since he lost his entire rookie season to a knee injury in 2009. Griffin (21.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 4.9 APG) will return as one of the top prospective 2017 free agents, a multitalented forward whose quick, explosive game around the basket has been supplemented in recent years by an active and sophisticated playmaking game that makes use of his basketball intelligence and ball skills. As he’s steadily drifted away from the basket area, to preserve his body and improve his team’s spacing, Griffin has relied more heavily on his improved, but still not lethal, mid-range jumper and his ability to create scoring opportunities with the dribble or pass after squaring up against his man. Although he’s yet to truly experiment with a three-point shot and he’s not a true rim-protector, he remains firmly in the “NBA’s best power forwards” conversation. The five-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA selection returns to the court this fall fully rested, with a Clippers roster that didn’t sustain any truly debilitating off-season departures, and with a chip on his shoulder given how badly last season got away from him. A healthy, comfortable and motivated Griffin in a contract year? That’s still a truly frightening proposition. (Last year: No. 8)
+ Ranked second league-wide with 9.6 touches at the elbow per game. From this comfort zone, he’s a quadruple threat: shooter, playmaker, screen-setter and lob-tosser
+ Averaged 59.9 passes per game last season, second only to Draymond Green among frontcourt players
– Career-high 46% of his shots were long twos last season—a far higher share than LaMarcus Aldridge and Dirk Nowitzki—and yet he connected on just 38.4%. Per Synergy Sports
– Suspended four games by the Clippers after he broke his hand punching a team employee in January