How To Build A Team Around Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin Before The 2014-15 Season

Over the past few seasons, Blake Griffin has started the process of transforming his style of play in anticipation of a decline in athleticism. During his first four NBA seasons, the Los Angeles Clippers used Blake in the low post or as a screener in the pick and roll. For instance, the point guard will bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to Blake Griffin in the low post area. Once that happens, the Blake Griffin will attempt to back down the defender with one of his shoulders to get within comfortable range to shoot a jump hook. Another example of this is when the point guard will bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to another perimeter player. The second perimeter will either dump the ball into the post or pass it to a third perimeter player, and he will throw it into the post to start the process of attempting to get a jump hook. However, there are instances where Los Angeles Clippers used Blake Griffin as a screener in the pick and roll. For example, the point guard would bring the ball up to the three-point line and then Griffin would set a screen. Once the pick was set, he would analyze how the defender chooses to defend him. For instance, if his defender decided to come up and cover the point guard, he would roll to the basket in hopes of dunking the ball. On the other hand, if his defender chose to stay back, he would pop out to the free throw line and stand there until the possession was over.

Blake Griffin During And After The 2014-15 Season

However, there was a significant difference in Blake Griffin’s style of play during his fifth season. Blake decided that he was going to reduce the number of dunks to shoot more mid-range jumpers. According to Basketball-Reference, Blake took 37.8 percent of his shots from 16 to 22 feet which was an 11.1 percent increase from the previous year. On the other hand, only 8 percent of his shots were dunks which was a decrease of 6.2 percent from the previous year. The change was most visible when Griffin played the role of a screener in the pick and roll. For example, he would perform a slide step or pop out to get in position for the jump shot instead of rolling to the basket to attempt a dunk. Over the next few years, Blake Griffin continued to extend his range to the point where he feels comfortable shooting from behind the arc now. According to Basketball-Reference, Blake took 32.3 percent of his shots from behind the arc this past season which was a 20.7 percent increase from the previous year.

Not only has Blake Griffin become more of a jump shooter, but he has also become an adequate playmaker. For example, Blake would grab the rebound and run down the court to get the attention of the defense. If this occurs, he will look to kick the basketball out to one of the players running down the wing. On the other hand, if it doesn’t happen, he will continue driving to the basket looking to get around the defender for an open shot or draw a foul. However, there were instances where he would hold or repeatedly dribble the ball in an attempt to draw a double team. If this occurs, he will pass the ball to the open player on the perimeter to shoot a three.

How To Build A Team Around Blake Griffin

Due to the transformation of Blake Griffin, he should be in a system similar to LeBron James where he can be the primary ball handler because it allows him to analyze the defense to determine what is the right play. In this offense, Blake would walk the ball up until the three-point line and evaluate how the defenders are positioned. For instance, if a defender is playing off of a three-point shooter, he is supposed to pass the ball to the wide-open shooter. On the other hand, if all the defenders are staying close to their man, he is expected to evaluate the size of his defender. If the defender is smaller than him, he should post up in the mid to low block and back him down until he can to a spot where he can shoot a jumper. But if his defender is the same size as him, he should use his speed and strength to get around him to attack the basket. However, there will be some instances where the defense will collapse on him, and he should pass the ball to the perimeter for the wide open three. Furthermore, on occasion, the team may have to use some different sets within the LeBron’s playbook to prevent from becoming a predictable offense. For example, the team may have Griffin act like he is going to post up at the free throw line and have him pass the ball to a teammate doing a backdoor cut to the basket.

As a result, a team would have to surround Blake Griffin with players who can catch and shoot or know how to move without the ball. However, not only will a team have to acquire three-point shooters but they need to find players who are outstanding defenders. This is because he will use defensive possessions to catch his breath to have enough energy for the next offensive possession. As a result of this, a team should target players like Matthew Dellavedova, Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Tony Snell and Paul George. All of these players shoot above 36 percent from behind the arc for their careers and are known as excellent defenders. For example, these players will crowd the space of the ball handler forcing them to pick up the dribble and turn sideways. Once this happens, they will go for the steal or run to a spot on the same side the ball handler is looking at to cut off the potential pathway. After this happens, the ball handler has two choices, take a contested shot or pass the ball.

In conclusion, if a team were to fill out the roster with those type of players, it would give Blake Griffin an opportunity to reach the second round or possibly the Conference Finals.

The Greatest Of All Time: A Term That Should Not Be Used In Team Sports

Introduction

Over the last two to three decades, sports pundits have been on a quest to determine which athlete is deserving of the moniker greatest of all time. For instance, Emmanuel Altenor formerly of Bleacher Report stated that we’ve seen many great players throughout NBA history “but which players in the game’s history stand out above the rest?”. However, one can argue that it is impossible to determine who is the greatest of all time because a substantial amount of players were subjected to different systems and responsibilities. Those responsibilities fundamentally altered how they approached their respective sport. A perfect example of this is Jason Kidd and Chris Paul; they are regarded as two of the greatest point guards in NBA history. Unfortunately, it is impossible to accurately compare them because they spent the majority of their careers in two different systems.

Jason Kidd

Throughout the NBA career of Jason Kidd, he had to play in offensive systems centered around ball movement. During his tenure with the New Jersey Nets, Kidd would bring the basketball up to the three-point line and passes the basketball to a big man in the high post area. Once this happened, the big man would analyze the defense to determine the next course of action. For instance, if the defense double covers the player posting up in the low post, he would enter a dribble handoff with a perimeter player. On the other hand, if the defense single covers the player posting up in the low post, he would dump the ball into the low block to start the process of shooting the ball. Another example of this is his tenure with the Phoenix Suns, Kidd would bring the ball up to the three-point line and pass the basketball to a teammate. Once this happens, the teammate will analyze how the defender chooses to defend him. If the defender gives him space, he will shoot the mid-range jumper.  On the other hand, if the defender plays him tight, the teammate will give the ball to another player who is going to restart the process of analyzing the defender. The process would continue until they found an open shot or the shot clock wound down. Due to this, Jason Kidd found himself standing behind the three-point line as a bystander or running all over the court trying to get open. The only time Jason had an opportunity to dominate the game was when the opposing team missed a shot. Once this happened, his team got the rebound and gave the ball to him to start the process of a fast break. During the fast break, Jason Kidd threw an outlet pass down court or ran down the middle of the court to get the attention of the defense. If this occurs, he will look to kick the basketball out to one of the players running down the wing.  On the other hand, if it doesn’t happen, he will continue driving to the basket looking to get around the defender for an open shot or draw a foul.

 

 

Chris Paul

On the other hand, Chris Paul got the opportunity to play in offensive systems centered around the pick and roll as well as post ups. For instance, Paul would bring the ball up to the three-point line and then a big man would set a screen. Once the pick was set Paul would pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action, for instance, if the defender went under the screen, Paul would go over it and take the wide open shot. On the other hand, if the defender went over the screen, Paul would go over it as well and drive towards the basket where he would score or pass the ball to the player next to him or to the perimeter depending on whether he was double teamed or not. However there were instances where Chris Paul would throw the ball into the mid to low block for a post up. For instance, Chris would bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to another perimeter player. The second perimeter player would immediately give the ball to him to dump it into the low post.  Once that happens, the big man will attempt to back down the defender with one of his shoulders to get within comfortable range to shoot a jump hook. Another example of this is when Paul would bring the basketball up to the three-point line and passes the basketball to a big man in the high post area. Once this happened, the big man would analyze the defense to determine the next course of action. For instance,  If the defender gave him a few feet of space, he would pull up to shoot the wide-open mid-range jumper. On the other hand, if the defender played him tight, he will attempt to drive towards the basket for an easy basket, to draw a foul or attract a double team.

Conclusion

Due to the difference in systems, Chris Paul has averaged more points and assists per game than Jason Kidd during his career. According to Basketball-Reference,  Paul averages 18.7 points per game and 9.8 assists per game. On the other hand, Kidd averaged 12.6 points per game and 8.7 assists per game. As a result, people should only compare great players who played the same position in the same system.

How To Build A Team Around Ben Simmons

Throughout his basketball career, Ben Simmons has been described as a player who exhibits exceptional court vision, passing ability, and ball-handling skills. According to DraftExpress, “Simmons’ best traits in the half-court revolves around his tremendous ball-handling and passing ability, as he has outstanding court vision and a knack for finding open teammates with bullet passes.” Due to this, he should be in a system similar to LeBron James where he can be the primary ball handler because it allows him to analyze the defense to determine what is the right play. In this offense, Ben would walk the ball up until the three-point line and evaluate how the defenders are positioned. For instance, if a defender is playing off of a three-point shooter, he is supposed to pass the ball to the wide-open shooter. On the other hand, if all the defenders are staying close to their man, he is expected to evaluate the size of his defender. If the defender is smaller than him, he should post up in the mid to low block and back him down until he can to a spot where he can shoot a jumper. But if his defender is the same size as him, he should use his speed and strength to get around him to attack the basket. However, there will be some instances where the defense will collapse on him, and he should pass the ball to the perimeter for the wide open three. Furthermore, on occasion, the team may have to use some different sets within the LeBron playbook to prevent from becoming a predictable offense. For example, the team may have Simmons act like he is going to post up at the free throw line and have him pass the ball to a teammate doing a backdoor cut to the basket.

Due to this, a team would have to surround Ben Simmons with players who can catch and shoot or know how to move without the ball. However, not only will a team have to acquire three-point shooter but they need to find players who are outstanding defenders. This is because Simmons has developed a habit of just watching the ball during defensive possessions. Due to this, he loses track of his assignment when not playing on-ball defense which forces the other players to decide to rotate or leave him open.

As a result of this, a team should target players like Matthew Dellavedova, Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Tony Snell and Paul George. All of these players shoot above 36 percent from behind the arc for their careers and are known as excellent defenders. For example, these players will crowd the space of the ball handler forcing them to pick up the dribble and turn sideways. Once this happens, they will go for the steal or run to a spot on the same side the ball handler is looking at to cut off the potential pathway. After this happens, the ball handler has two choices, take a contested shot or pass the ball.

In conclusion, if a team were to fill out the roster with those type of players, it would give Ben Simmons the best opportunity to make a deep playoff run and possibly a championship. This is because a team can put Simmons on the weakest offensive player and lessen the risk of being hurt by his ball watching.

How To Build A Team Around Kristaps Porzingis

Throughout his NBA career, Kristaps Porzingis has gained the reputation of being a soft big man due to his slender body frame. According to the New York Daily News, Dallas Mavericks perimeter player Wesley Matthews called him “soft and sweet” at the end of the game on January 6th, 2018. This is because Matthews was able to push “him around, hip tossing him, cursing at him, fighting him for position in the post.” Kristaps’s issues with physicality are directly related to his inability to add muscle mass to his body frame to back down the defender on a consistent basis. As a result, every time Porzingis is told to post up he is forced to turn around and shoot over the defender because he can’t back him down. Due to this, a team should abandon the idea of a Kristaps Porzingis post up and strictly use him as a screener in the pick and roll. Kristaps playing the role of a screener allows him to pop out or roll to the basket depending on what the defender does. For instance, if his defender decides to come up and defend the point guard, he can roll to the basket. On the other hand, if his defender chooses to stay back, he can pop out to the three-point line.

Therefore, a team would need to surround Porzingis with one or two perimeter players who are comfortable running the pick and roll. For instance, James Harden, Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas and Russell Westbrook are all used to bringing the ball up to the three-point line and asking for a screen. Once the pick was set they pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action. For instance, if the defender went under the screen, these players will go over it and take the open shot. On the other hand, if the defender went over the screen, they will go over it as well and drive towards the basket where he can score or pass the ball to the player next to him or to the perimeter depending on whether he was double teamed or not.

As a result of this, the defense will be forced to choose one of three options, focus on stopping the perimeter player which will leave Kristaps open or with single coverage. On the other hand, they can zero in on paying attention to Kristaps leading to the perimeter player being left open or having single coverage. Lastly, the defense can decide to double team both of the players which means that the other three players will be open or single covered.

Not only Kristaps need players who are comfortable running the pick and roll, but he also needs players who can shoot the three-pointer and play outstanding defense. This is because Kristaps is occasionally susceptible to blow-bys when defending guards on the perimeter due to slower lateral movement. As a result of this, a team should target players like Matthew Dellavedova, Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Tony Snell and Paul George. All of these players shoot above 36 percent from behind the arc for their careers and are known as excellent defenders. For example, these players will crowd the space of the ball handler forcing them to pick up the dribble and turn sideways. Once this happens, they will go for the steal or run to a spot on the same side the ball handler is looking at to cut off the potential pathway. After this happens, the ball handler has two choices, take a contested shot or pass the ball.

In conclusion, if a team were to fill out the roster with those type of players, it would give Kristaps Porzingis the best opportunity to make a deep playoff run and possibly a championship. This is because it will increase the likelihood of Kristaps being energized for the majority of the season and getting more wide open looks at the basket.