For the past three seasons, Los Angeles Clippers’ power forward Blake Griffin has been called “soft” and labeled as a player who “only dunks”, but his critics have been silenced in 2013-14.
Fantasy basketball owners who decided to take a chance on the Clippers’ big man have been rewarded with top 10 fantasy play, which is sure to continue — with or without Chris Paul in the lineup.
Owners may be scared of a possible dip in production from Griffin during the second half of the season — and in some aspects of his game, there will be — but overall, he will remain solid. That notion can be attributed to the vast improvements he’s made in several facets of his game.
The most noticeable upgrade to Griffin’s repertoire has been his free throw shooting. A 61.1 percent free throw shooter in his first three seasons, Griffin has elevated his accuracy from the line this year. He’s hit 70.5 percent of his freebies in ’13-14, and his December and January numbers were especially outstanding, knocking down 74.2 percent of his shots from the charity stripe.
Griffin’s mid-range game has come around too, proving he doesn’t just need Paul to feed him lobs to be effective. Naturally, the former Oklahoma Sooner has dominated near the basket, ranking first in the NBA with 314 field goals made in the restricted area and shooting 70.4 percent from that distance (fifth in the league), yet his game outside the paint is where he’s really taken a big step up.
Last year, Griffin made just 35.1 percent of his mid-range jumpers, but this year he’s been successful on 39.2 percent of his shots from that part of the court — a marked improvement in just 10 month’s time.
Griffin is averaging a career-high 24.2 points this season — including an incredible 33.7 points in six February games — and with the Clippers gunning for a top playoff spot, you can be sure your fantasy team won’t get cheated.
Sure, his stats will decline a little with Chris Paul back, but his numbers with his Clippers’ teammate in the lineup aren’t anything to complain about, scoring 22.5 points and grabbing 10.6 boards in 37 games. By adding 3.5 assists (third among NBA power forwards) and 1.1 steals, Blake Griffin solidifies himself as an elite fantasy basketball option, securing the No. 8 spot in my latest overall player rankings: