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Midseason Roundtable Grades: Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin has been out of the spotlight for most of the season with injuries. But when healthy, his play has been stellar. Here are our writer’s grades for him this season.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Wood: B+

I can't quite push Blake into A-territory when's been unavailable for such a sizable chunk of season. I didn't punish Chris Paul in the same way, but CP's injury seems more like bad luck and Blake's more like bad physiology (or, um, a bad training staff). But, when he's been on the court he's been aces, particularly since his return. He's showing again that he can be a one-man offense, a blessing in that it offers the team playmaking redundancy, and a curse in that the redundancy offers fans and media fuel for trade rumors.

Kenneth Armstrong: B+

This one is hard to think through. The numbers, in just thirty-six games played, hold up pretty well to Blake’s standards. His scoring is on pace, free throws are even better, and he is more comfortable shooting the three pointer. Oh - and he has become a better, more creative passer. But he’s losing some points off of my rubric because he’s been absent. I do not wish to blame Blake for his injury; however, he has a little bit of work to make up.

Max Jeffrey: A

Blake Griffin is the focal point of the Clippers offense, and with good reason. He can do it all: score, rebound, pass, handle…the only thing he hasn’t been able to do is remain healthy. But Griffin leads the Clippers in points scored (21.9), minutes played (33.3), field goal attempts (16.7), field goal makes (8.2), free throw attempts (6.9), and free throw makes (5.2) per game despite missing 20 games this season due to injury. He also ranks 2nd in rebounds (8.8), assists (5.0), steals (1.1), and blocks (0.6) per game, as well as 2nd in Offensive Rating (114.1), Net Rating (10.7), Assist Percentage (25.2%), and Plus-Minus (7.0). The Clippers are 24-12 in games Griffin has played this year, and while he’s only been back for a short while, he and the rest of the team appear to have reclaimed their rhythm as they hope to extend their current four-game win streak. Griffin has been able to extend his shooting range out beyond the arc, and has been encouraged by Doc to do so more often since his return. The Clippers need Griffin just as badly as they need Chris Paul in their lineup, and with Paul still sidelined for another few weeks, Griffin’s importance will continue to become magnified.

Shapan Debnath: B+

Maybe you'd want to give Griffin lower than this just based on all the games he's missed, but this last stretch made me want to give him a quality grade. He's really flashed that form that made him so dangerous during our playoff run against the Spurs/Rockets, facilitating so well and also keeping good focus defensively these last couple of games. It's easy to forget what a brilliant passer Griffin is, and a stretch without Chris Paul really makes you appreciate that fact. If we can have this Blake for the postseason, then we can really make some noise.

James Nisky: A

He's balling his mind out since returning from injury. He's played in as many games as Chris Paul, but his injuries have been more severe. Anyway, he's 12th in the league in +/-, right behind LeBron James. But check this, Blake Griffin is one of five players in the league averaging at least 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists per game, along with Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and LeBron James, and he's doing it playing fewer minutes per game that all of those players and with the second fewest field goal attempts per game. Of that group, Blake has the second highest +/- (7.0 compared to LeBron's 7.1). If we made 8 rebounds per game a requirement for this list, then we could even bump LeBron off as well. The biggest takeaway from that comparison? The other four guys are ranked 1, 2, 4, and 5 in the MVP race right now. The only thing keeping Blake from being in that top 5 is that he's played about 20 games fewer than those guys. This hard data supports what the eye test has told us all for a while; Blake Griffin is one of the few, genuine, do-a-bit-of-everything-and-do-all-of-it-well players in the league. It would be easier to mentally bend a spoon than figure out why Blake doesn't get the crazy media love the other members of that esoteric list do, but there's no need to rationalize or intellectualize the issue. Blake is a top 10 player in the NBA, and if he keeps pace, should probably be a sleeper pick for an all-NBA team.

Robert Flom: A-

Blake Griffin’s season can be broken down into three parts: pre-injury, injury, and post-injury. Pre-injury he was playing excellent, if mostly unspectacular, basketball. He was content to take a backseat to a red-hot Chris Paul, but the team was playing at a superb level, so it was the right decision. Then came the injury, and all was woe. His long absence sapped the Clippers’ season of whatever momentum it had, and has led to them being 4th in the Western Conference instead of 2nd or 3rd. The consequences that had on the season can’t be ignored. Fortunately, since Blake has come back, he has been absolutely terrific, leading the Clippers to a four game win streak— and keeping them within reach of the Rockets. He will need to play this well until Chris Paul returns to maintain the Clippers’ position. Far more importantly, he must play at this level (while at the same time meshing with Chris Paul) if the Clippers are to have any chance of beating the Golden State Warriors. He has it in him, all he needs is good health.