Clippers’ Blake Griffin has improved his midrange shooting

Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, right, shoots over Utah Jazz teammates Marvin Williams, center, and Derrick Favors during Saturday's game. Griffin says he has been working to improve his midrange shooting accuracy.
(Frederic J. Brown / Getty Images)

Analytics gurus hate midrange jumpers, thinking them to be the most inefficient shots in the NBA.

They won’t be able to use Blake Griffin’s performance Wednesday to bolster their case.

Continually nudged toward the perimeter by a trapping defense, the Clippers forward made eight of 12 shots from at least 16 feet against the Charlotte Bobcats, continuing a seasonlong uptick in his midrange accuracy.

He is shooting 38.2% on shots from 15-19 feet, a considerable improvement over the 33.5% of shots he made from the same distance last season. Griffin is even better from 20-24 feet, making 43.1% of his shots as opposed to 34.2% from that distance last season.

“It’s an area that I’m working on,” Griffin said Thursday of his midrange game, “but not the final frontier” to becoming a complete offensive player.

Griffin credited his work with shooting coach Bob Thate and constant repetition. He’s also making a career-high 69.7% of his free throws, a number that he said he wants to push into the mid- to upper-70s by the end of the season.


Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said Griffin has avoided lulls in offensive production by varying his approach. Some nights he scores primarily in the post and other nights he mixes in transition baskets and jump shots.

Griffin turned into primarily a jump shooter against the Bobcats, Rivers said, because they repeatedly trapped him with multiple defenders to deny him shots around the basket.

“They clearly decided [Wednesday] night that they were going to use D.J.'s [DeAndre Jordan’s] guy to trap Blake front and back and take his post game away,” Rivers said. “He still ended up with [31] points, so that’s a good sign for him and our team.”

Griffin made 14 of 20 shots overall during the Clippers’ 27-point victory. He even mixed in a three-pointer in the fourth quarter, giving him seven for the season — two more than he made all of last season.

“It’s not something I look toward,” Griffin said of his three-point shooting. “If it’s open and it’s there, I’ll take it, but mostly corner threes. But it’s still not a shot I go into the game planning on or spending much time thinking about.”


Rookie swingman Reggie Bullock, who has not played since Dec. 7, recently tweaked his sprained right ankle in practice, Rivers said, but remained “close” to returning. “Mentally, that’s hard, you know, when you’re almost healthy and you tweak it just a little bit,” Rivers said. “That’s all you need mentally to think, ‘I’m not ready.’ So it will be interesting to see” how Bullock responds. … Reserve guard Maalik Wayns continues to limp in practice more than two months after undergoing surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, Rivers said, meaning he’s not ready to play in games even though he’s been activated. “Eventually he’ll get on the floor,” Rivers said. “But honestly, we’re just trying to get him healthy right now.”

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