The most glaring criticism of the Clippers’ high-flying forward is that he shies away from contact and will give in when opponents are physical with him. When the same points were brought up to Billups, he didn’t dispute them.
“I don’t agree that Blake Griffin is soft. But what I will say about Blake is that he’s maybe too nice of a guy,” Billups said on the program co-hosted by Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless. “Because there’s been times in games where people take shots at Blake. And I tell him if that’s me, you’re going to have to take this two- or three-game suspension, and I’m going to punish somebody.”
It’s an interesting conundrum, because gone are the days where NBA players could police themselves and retaliate for going too far inside and initiating too much contact. Now, the referees are not only quick to blow their whistles, but also won’t hesitate to hand down suspensions. Griffin has been reluctant to retaliate and has often shown strong self-control in his ability to refrain from going over the edge.
The Clippers were stunned in the first round of the NBA playoffs this season by the Memphis Grizzlies. Coincidentally, they are one of the more physical teams in the league, known for playing a slow pace and having a strong defensive presence, particularly on the inside featuring Zach Randolph and reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol. They led the league in opponents points allowed with a stellar mark of just 89.3 points per game against them, and played at an 88.4 game pace, the slowest in the league.
What that equates to is physical play, and the Grizzlies’ bigs got to Griffin. Although Billups didn’t say it outright, he strongly suggested that Griffin needs to assert himself and respond any way he can in order to avoid being pushed around. The Clippers are a team on the brink of doing something special, and many had them tabbed to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.
Griffin’s development as a more physical player in the near future will go a long way toward L.A. realizing those aspirations.
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