For Blake Griffin, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, here are the three best pieces to his game.
1. His post-up ability: Griffin moves around the paint better than any other player I can remember in recent history. He has a plethora of moves in the lane, so many that it's impossible for defenders to know which one he'll go to when he's posting up. Griffin can turn over his left or right shoulder from either side of the lane and put it off the glass, and his use of ball fakes is solid. He has the ability to get defenders off their feet with any of his moves and is extremely strong with the up-and-under move in his arsenal. If Griffin posts a man close to the basket, the chances of stopping him are slim. And he's not afraid to go over the top and slam it over a defender. While the caliber of defenders will improve as he enters the NBA, his dominance in the lane clearly has the most upside for him becoming a good professional player.
2. How he runs up and down the floor: Big guys that can get up and down the floor are a great asset in the NBA. Griffin knows only one way to play, and that's 100 percent, high speed all the time. He consistently made himself a target down the court for Sooner guards throughout his two years at OU. Besides his obvious dominance in athletic ability over other players at the college level, his ability to get down the court as a target was a major reason he got so many dunks for the Sooners. And he gets back quickly on defense also. That's definitely an encouraging part of Griffin's game for the Clippers.
3. Leadership: Only certain players have a will to win like Griffin. And when players have that will to win at all costs, it's a special asset. Griffin exhibits this by being mentally prepared at all times and carrying himself in the appropriate manner. He's not afraid to be vocal with his teammates and let them know when they're doing something wrong. He won't accept teammates playing at less than 100 percent, and that's the type of leadership teams need for greatness.
Griffin has a dominant post-up ability over all defenders, runs up and down the court and demonstrates great leadership on and off the court all the time.
But like any other player coming out of college and entering the NBA, he has parts of his game that need some improvement.
Here are a couple of them.
1. Mid-range jumper: It's been repeated over and over again. Many college basketball analysts cited it before the NCAA Tournament. Griffin needs to improve his outside shooting. Imagine a player that is as dominant as Griffin is inside but can also step out and hit the 10- or 15-foot jump shot. He'd be an unstoppable post player. Griffin definitely needs to improve this part of his game. It will make him more versatile in terms of where he can play on the floor, and it will ultimately make him harder to stop because defenders will have to choose whether or not they want to play him closer up or give him space. Once he proves he can make the mid-range jumper, it will force defenders to play him more honestly further away from the basket, allowing him a better chance to blow by for the dunk.
2. Decision-making: Does he have the ability to blow by defenders or score on any possession? Yes. Does he have the will to do it? Yes. And has he proven it? Yes. Even in double-team situations, Griffin has proven time and time again that he can't be stopped. But in the NBA, the caliber of defenders steps up a notch. Only the most elite players can take on two defenders. In addition, there will be better players complementing him in the NBA, guys that are more reliable to pass the ball to. At times in his career at OU, he passed up on opportunities to get rid of the ball to a wide open teammate. Granted, he's a much more gifted player than all of his teammates at OU, but the art of passing becomes even more important in the NBA given how good the defenders are, so he'll need to do it. It's not to say he's been a selfish player as a Sooner. That's not the case, but he'll simply need to utilize his passing game more in the pros than he did at the college level because the discrepancy between great players is much slimmer.