Midway through the first quarter of the Clippers first preseason game Tuesday, Blake Griffin slid into the right corner while the play started out top. The Warriors defense pretty much ignored him that far from the basket so Chris Paul whipped a pass to Griffin, who quickly went up with a smooth jumper and drained the corner three.
For the game Griffin was 9-of-17 shooting, but 7 of those nine makes were jump shots, a shot that seemed smoother than a year ago. The guy who was knocked by some a couple seasons back because “he can only dunk” has developed an outside shot that is a legitimate weapon, and this season may have expanded that range out to the three point line (last season he took just 44 threes all season and hit 12).
That’s not fair. He’s still just as explosive, he can still put the ball on the floor and finish over anyone. It’s just that now if you lay back to take away the drive he’s make you pay with the jumper. Griffin clearly worked on the shot over the summer and said this about it to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s just the confidence, really,” Griffin said. “When I’m open, I’m going to shoot it because you just feel like it’s going in. But I’m not strictly a jump-shooter now. I have to do the things I used to do, the things that got me here.”
We’ll see how often Griffin really goes to this shot. Doc Rivers isn’t sitting around thinking, “We should use Griffin as a stretch four and keep him out of the paint.”
But you have to respect that shot from him now, which will space the floor, opening up driving lanes for Chris Paul and room for DeAndre Jordan to work in the post.
This is exactly the kind of step you need to see from contenders looking to get over the hump.