Griffin & EJ are perhaps the two main reasons as to why many believe the Clippers have a chance of beating expectations this season. We've heard how Gordon's going to be more vocal this season and are expecting more of a swagger, but his mental capacity to take over a game and seize it was right back to where it's always been, timid and sometimes appearing like he forgot how to play. I'm a big EJ supporter, and hate to say it, but he pretty much choked at the end. Gordon's game reminds me of a good combo running back with some good power, speed, and some receiving ability, who takes the ball all the way to the 2 yard line and then can't close the deal. The team would do well to bring in a power back at that point.
Preseason is all about small sample sizes, but a guy's mental game doesn't change over night. We were hoping it could change over a summer, and I think it has to a degree, but I simply worry that he'll continue to struggle where we need him the most, at the end of games. .
In taking a look at Griffin, i'm loving the stats that he's compiling and obviously what he brings to the team. I noticed in this game that we were able to score quickly after Spurs makes by running the floor, and obviously in large part because of BG. The Suns w/ Nash have always been notorious for this and it can break the opponents back when they work an entire shot clock to make a difficult shot, and then you run it back at them and score in seconds. However, As SP points out, his offensive game isn't much more than running the floor and put-backs right now. The jumpshot has gone from horrible (last preseason) to pretty bad (this preseason), and while it may be improving, it's at a slow rate, and more importantly it's a bad play any time he shoots the ball. Jump shooting aside, Griffin's post game has a long way to go. I thought we'd be seeing more plays or at least attempts with Griffin finding a way to make something happen in the post, but it's clear this will be a work in progress.
Again, I realize we're talking preseason here, but make no mistake the Clippers wanted this game badly, and EJ's struggles at the end were too bad to ignore. The missed free throws were probably the worst, both way short, and you could sense all was not confident in his pre-shot routine. What also bothered me was the indecision on two key breaks where he had a man on his right and couldn't execute, one by taking it himself with Kaman open, and then one of the worst lob's ever to Griffin.
Speaking of Griffin, the worst part about all of this is how his greatest strength is a potential weakness. By using all of that athletic ability to where he's hitting the deck multiple times per game, and overall putting himself in position to get injured time and time again, it's hard to help but think, "how long can he do this while escaping injury". Adding insult to potential injury, if you watch last night's game and take the hype and medical reports out of it, I couldn't get this thought out of my mind: Did the Spurs get a comparable player in the 2nd round to our #1 overall pick. It would appear that they very well might have.