Los Angeles Clippers forward and Lob City deputy mayor Blake Griffin has had an interesting season, playing for a team that’s fully in the playoff picture but nevertheless seeing his popularity dip among NBA diehards because of perceived behavioral issues. Simply put, Griffin jaws at opponents and complains about calls a lot, to the point where he can come across as a bit of a jerk. Everybody’s favorite highlight-maker isn’t quite the same.
The highlights are still there, though, and on Wednesday night he had two of the best dunks of the year for any player. The first came not even 90 seconds into the game, when Randy Foye missed a corner three and Griffin followed it up with a thunderous putback over Pau Gasol. People started making fun of Gasol for looking like he was riding a rollercoaster, and his bad night was sealed.
Read more and see the 2 amazing dunks on Gasol after the jumpExcept things somehow got worse for Pau in the third quarter, when Griffin tried his best to recreate his stellar dunk on Kendrick Perkins from earlier this season.
Griffin got some flack for hitting Gasol in the face on this dunk — people also he thought he should have been called for an over-the-back foul on the first one — but there’s no denying that it was the sort of powerful finish that only a few players in the league can complete. His explosiveness is still unmatched among big men, and these highlights at least momentarily make everyone forget about his attitude.
It even got some attention from one of Griffin’s future opponents. North Carolina star forward John Henson, who declared for the draft last week, took a photo of Andrew Bynum’s pained reaction to seeing Gasol embarrassed yet again. Only time will tell if Henson finds things quite so funny when he’s facing Griffin next season.
Yet, as exciting as the dunks are, there are broader concerns about Griffin’s game, and those are evident from his stat line: 15 points and 14 rebounds look solid, but he shot only 7-of-16 from the field, finished at -16 in his 36 minutes despite just a five-point loss, and tended to fall away from the basket whenever the Lakers defended him with Andrew Bynum.
Now that Griffin’s not a rookie and the Clippers are expected to contend in the West, fans want more than just amazing dunks. We’ll look at these two slams in awe, but we’ll also note when the rest is lacking. If that approach seems a little too serious, just remember that desired progression is a part of the maturation process.