From the second Blake Griffin said “lob city,” every one of us pictured his pick-and-roll with Chris Paul as potentially the most devastating play in the NBA. We pictured unstoppable dunks.
So far, not so much. Through 11 games this season, Blake Griffin has gotten a shot attempt as the roll man in the pick-and-roll 29 times — and 22 of those were pick-and-pop jumpers. Just seven times has he gotten the ball rolling to the basket off the pick and taken a shot this season.
Let that sink in a second.
Mark Travis of The Chase Down Block found those numbers — I went to My Synergy Sports to double check because it seemed counterintuitive, and he’s right. While the Clippers have the seventh most efficient offense in the NBA this season, they haven’t figured out how to unleash their most devastating weapon. In an effort to space the floor Griffin spends time on the perimeter rather than in the paint.
In his must-read post Travis notes that Griffin is not attacking off the pick-and-roll like Amar’e Stoudemire used to do when he was part of the most feared combo in the league (with Steve Nash).
This season, Griffin has been floating around on the perimeter way too often. Obviously, any time Griffin doesn’t approach the paint is a win for the defense, which was the case with Amar’e during his days in Phoenix. That said, when Amar’e would shoot the 16-23 footer, he could still burn a defense, as he was an effective 44-48% shooter from that range. Griffin doesn’t have the weapon in his arsenal yet, and he’s actually shooting slightly worse than he did last season from 16-23 feet (33% to 31%) on two more attempts per game (3.1 to 5.1). That’s right, athletic monster Blake Griffin is shooting five mid-range jumpers a night, which is the same amount as Dirk Nowitzki is shooting, but Dirk is making 56% of his.
Chris Paul played for years with pick-and-pop specialist David West, but Griffin is a different player and the two are still working to get on the same page. Griffin has to attack more — he’s worked on that midrange game but it still is not the weapon it needs to be. He needs to be Amar’e or Tyson Chandler. Attack. Right now the Clippers are not playing to their strengths. They are playing into the hands of the defense, who will let Griffin try to beat them from 19 feet all night long.
The Clippers are a work in progress, and still a good offensive team. But when Griffin attacks and he and CP3 learn how to make that work together, they can be much more than good. As can the Clippers.