Blake Griffin strives to take his game to another level

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Griffin’s game has been evolving over the years. Strengthening of the mind would presumably accelerate that evolution, and he did that by reading book after book during the offseason, thanks in part to a pact with a childhood pal.“I have a buddy who’s in med school right now, one of my best friends growing up,” said Griffin, 26. “And I wouldn’t say a wild kid, but he was like super into basketball, that’s all he did. He didn’t really care a whole lot about school, super smart dude.‘Now, he’s like top of his class in med school and we just kind of had this thing where we always pushed each other to become better people, smarter, always trying to learn stuff, always trying to do stuff. He kind of was the one who sparked it for me. He told me about this book, I read it and the ball kept rolling from there.”Perhaps, or not, Griffin’s mind work has something to do with his start this season. He was averaging a career-high 24.7 points as well as 8.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists — the second-highest of his career — entering Saturday’s game against Orlando at Staples Center.As noteworthy as anything, he was shooting a career-best 43 percent from 16 feet and beyond out to the 3-point line, in a season when he is taking 42.5 percent of his shots from that distance — his highest such career percentage. He’s shooting 53 percent overall. They say variety is the spice of life. Take L.A. Clippers power forward Blake Griffin.He doesn’t want to be a one-trick pony on the basketball court, so he works on everything.He doesn’t want to just watch sports all day when he’s free, so he reads.It’s that strong mind, strong body thing.center_img To say the least, Griffin is owner of a sweet mid-range jumper. The way he sometimes glides into it and gracefully goes up to shoot has been a beautiful thing to watch.“Blake’s incredible,” Golden State Warriors interim coach Luke Walton said recently. “He’s another player that is an All-Star that has taken his game to another level. His jump shot looks better than it ever has because I know he’s put in a ton of work.“But now that he has those skills to go with his athleticism and his strength … he’s having a heck of a year so far.”Players who are 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds aren’t supposed to shoot as gracefully as Griffin. They’re not supposed to be able to facilitate the way he does, either. His vision and passing skills are superb.Clippers coach Doc Rivers recalls the story how Tony Brown, a former assistant when Rivers coached the Boston Celtics, first told Rivers of Griffin’s passing skills during a telephone conversation after Rivers took the Clippers job in 2013.“He said, ‘Hey, he’s a great passer. He’s not a good passer. And if you can figure out a way of using him, he’ll surprise you with his vision,’” Rivers said. “And he has. His handle has gotten better and all that with his work, but he just has great instincts. He has great feel. There are few bigs that can do that, but he’s one of them.”Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel points out this past postseason and how outstanding Griffin was with the ball in his hands.“What he did in the playoffs last year and in prior years … he’s not just a dump-it-down-into-the-post and score lobs like maybe his first, second year of his career,” Vogel said. “What he’s doing on the perimeter, you know, playing point forward a lot last year when Chris Paul was out, was just sensational.”Paul missed two of 14 playoff games a season ago. In one — a 117-101 win at Houston in Game 1 of the conference semifinals — Griffin had 13 assists.Griffin also totaled 21 assists with Paul on the floor in a pair of first-round games against the Spurs. In 14 playoff games, Griffin averaged 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists while averaging a whopping 39.8 minutes.He does it all, and he works on it all.“As far as my workouts, just mixing it up and doing a lot,” Griffin said. “Not just concentrating on shooting, but doing a lot of stuff in the post, doing stuff off the dribble, getting into the lane, ball-handling. Just literally trying to do everything every day, as opposed to, ‘I’m just going to get some shots up today.’”Not surprisingly, because of how hard he does work to improve his game with all the body and soul stuff, Griffin is also his own worst critic. After a rare off-game Wednesday, during which he shot just 6 of 18 from the field and had four turnovers in a loss to Indiana, Griffin put the hammer down hard on himself.He said, in part, “I think you can’t really expect us to win a game when I play that poorly, shoot that badly and have that many turnovers. So it is on me. I have to be better.”He has been.THE GRIFFIN FILEHeight: 6-foot-10Weight: 250Age: 26College: OklahomaDrafted: No. 1 overall in 2009 NBA Draft.2015 stats: 24.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 4.8 apglast_img

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