If Blake Griffin only had a consistent outside shot, the basketball naysayers constantly harped last season, imagine how much more of a force the Clippers power forward would be.
If Griffin develops a jump shot, his critics have bellowed, think about how much more the 6-10 athletic human highlight would dominate.
Well, Griffin, who has heard it all about how he can’t shoot, how all he does is dunk and how his low-post game needs improvement, has been working diligently to improve that aspect of his game.
Though it remains a work in progress, Griffin said he has made strides.
“It’s not one of those things where people are going to be like, ‘Oh, wow, it’s completely different,’” Griffin said. “For me, it’s much more compact than it was. I feel like there’s less chance for error. But, still, I’ve got a lot more work to go.”
The Clippers hired Bob Thate as the team’s shooting coach, and his job has been to work with Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan.
Griffin said they broke down all of his old shooting habits.
He had a hitch in his shot and frequently looked hesitant to shoot. Griffin said he would fade back on his jumper, hang in the air too long and keep the ball up high.
“I think we’ve pretty much gotten rid of all that,” Griffin said. “Now it’s a matter of getting reps and shooting the same way.”
Now Griffin’s release point, balance and follow-through are better.
It hasn’t been easy for Griffin to make the change, but he is determined to get better at shooting the ball.
“It’s definitely frustrating, but you’ve got to stick with it,” Griffin said. “That was my main thing. No matter how poorly I shot one day, I just had to stick with it. It was one of those things where he completely changed what we had been doing. It takes a while to get used to it.”
It’s not as if Griffin had a poor 2011-12 season.
He was 10th in the NBA in scoring (20.7 points per game), seventh in field-goal percentage (54.9%) and sixth in rebounds (10.9).
He worked so hard to score down low, taking a physical pounding in the process.
A mid-range jumper, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said, will give Griffin another weapon.
“Well, it opens up everything,” Del Negro said. “Not only for him, but for everyone. There is the spacing factor and he doesn’t have to take as much pounding.”
But there is a more important factor for Griffin.
“I think his confidence is better,” Del Negro said. “But it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some time. Everybody wants it now. But there’s a process involved. He’s putting in all the time and effort he can. You’re going to see some more consistency there and improvement.”