The biggest questions in the Los Angeles Clippers camp this season are: is Lamar Odom an asset or a liability, can Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups stay healthy, and can Blake Griffin become a better offensive player?
The first two are nowhere near answered as Odom has played limited minutes in the Clips’ first two preseason games, Chris Paul can scrimmage but has not been in a preseason game and Billups won’t play until mid-November as he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon. However, the third–Griffin–is a definite yes.
In today’s early morning 94-80 loss to the Miami Heat in China, Griffin displayed a larger array of low-post moves than he did last season. The days of only scoring on alley-oops or rebound put-backs seem to be over.
Don’t get me wrong, an airborne play or a tip-in will always be options, but now Griffin has a spin move, wants to back down opponents in the paint and learned the old-fashioned up and under move that he showcased on the Heat’s Robert Dozier. Griffin not only used his new arsenal on young, inexperienced players, but on Chris Bosh and Shane Battier as well.
He also dribbled the ball more than I’ve ever seen him before. Instead of looking to pass the ball as soon as he secured a rebound, he ventured up the court with the ball himself. Griffin did have six turnovers, but only three of them were because of a bad pass or mistake. The rest were because of miscomunication with teammates.
I don’t mind a turnover in the preseason if they are constructive. Griffin should be able to learn from his faults against the Heat and be more aware of what he can and can’t do with the ball against great NBA defenses in the future.
If the NBA All-Star continues to work on the game, I think he could possibly fool us all and become the well-rounded, versatile player many don’t think he can be.
Other notes from the game
The Clippers miss Chris Paul in a large way. Without him on the floor, there isn’t anyone to lead the offense who can be trusted to not make costly turnovers. Griffin had six turnovers, Jamal Crawford five and the starting backcourt duo of Willie Green and Eric Bledsoe had three apiece.
With 2 minutes left in the second quarter, the Clips had 15 turnovers that resulted in 13-Miami points. LA finished the game with 25 turnovers to Miami’s 12.
DeAndre Jordan did not get any better at the free throw line from last seasons 53% as he missed seven straight and finished 1-10. This could be worse than the hack-a-shack; a big-time liability.