Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin told The Los Angeles Times on Sept. 29 he plans to lead his team by example in the 2014-15 NBA season.
Blake Griffin to Lead LA Clippers By Example in 2014-15
“Blake Griffin is widely considered one of the top players in the NBA and he intends to be a leader for the Clippers.
“But in his own way.
“‘I think for me it’s about trying to lead by example and doing things,’ Griffin said. ‘I’m not always the guy who is going to be talking a lot in the huddles, but every game I want to be the guy who guys can depend on down the stretch, depend on to work hard, take care of myself and do the things that I need to do.’
“Last season Griffin averaged a career-high in points (24.3) and 9.5 rebounds a game. But the Clippers once again fell short of their postseason goals, being eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Griffin spent the off-season trying to take his game to the next level.
“‘I did a lot of work with my shooting coach, like I have in the past,’ he said. ‘I did a lot of working facing out, a lot of work in the post, a lot of work taking pops. I really just focused on those main areas where I get most of my offense. And also with that, I think this summer I watched more film than I ever have to break down things and try to see things from a different perspective.'”
For his part, ESPN’s J.A. Adande believes it’s time for Griffin to take on a more active leadership role:
“Yes, he’s the same age (25) Kevin Durant was when he won the Most Valuable Player award last season. It’s the same age Allen Iverson was when he won the MVP in 2001. Griffin’s old enough to have this league figured out, but not so old his highlights plays are all in the past. He’s at an age when potential begins to transfer to results .
“The Clippers still need Paul to be an elite point guard, DeAndre Jordan to anchor the defense, J.J. Redick to hit the outside shots, Jamal Crawford to provide bench scoring, Spencer Hawes to give them frontcourt depth. If you think about it, it’s actually easier to expect All-Star performances from Griffin than for all of those variables to play out. Griffin will be the focal point. He can either overcome bad play from his teammates or undermine them with bad play of his own.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) September 29, 2014
“‘He realizes that we go as far as he takes us,’ (Clippers forward Matt) Barnes said.
“It’s why Griffin sat out Team USA’s world championship run in Spain this summer to protect his hurt back and focus on the upcoming season. And maybe it’s why Griffin’s demeanor seemed a little more mature at Clippers media day on Monday. He took on more questions that he might have been content to leave for Paul to answers in seasons past. The dry sense of humor wasn’t on display.
“‘It’s just a mindset that we want to have as a franchise,’ Griffin said. ‘Everything we do, practices, games, even off the court, we want to have the right mindset, a professional mindset.’
“Paul mentioned this will be his fourth season together with Griffin and Jordan. That’s an eternity for a trio in the modern NBA. The only equivalent heading into the season is the three years that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee have logged together with the (Golden State) Warriors. The only thing better — way, way better — is the dozen years of service Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in San Antonio.
“But for every click of the Clippers’ pieces fitting together in Year 2 under Doc Rivers, there’s a tick of time elapsing. Jordan is in the last year of his contract. The second wave of players — Barnes, Jamal Crawford and (J.J.) Redick — are all in their 30s. Urgency would serve the Clippers well.
“It might not be realistic to expect them to make the championship leap this season. The gap between six and 16 playoff victories is too vast. Advancing to the conference finals feels tangible. Asking Griffin to lead them there seems reasonable.
“‘It’s not whether it’s fair or not,’ Griffin said. ‘It is what it is. That’s the reality.’
“He was talking about the perception of Paul. He might as well have used those words on himself. Because this season, everything’s on Griffin.”
Griffin has averaged 21.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 308 career regular-season games through Sept. 30, per ESPN stats.
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