2018-2019 POP Season Preview: A Healthy Blake Griffin Aims to Lead Pistons to Playoffs
Coming into the 2018-19 season Blake Griffin will be the Detroit Pistons’ focal point on offense and is expected to be an All-Star caliber player. In order to get there, Griffin will need to pass more, iso-less, and most importantly, stay healthy.
Last year, Griffin played just 25 games in the Motor City, sitting out the final eight games due to an ankle contusion. On the court, Griffin struggled in his first 12 games but once acclimated, showed promise as a solid play-maker and improved three-point shooter. For this year, both will be critical under new head coach Dwayne Casey.
Over his final 13 games last season, Griffin averaged 21 points on 46% shooting while also increasing his assists to 7 per game and increasing his three-point shooting from a devastating 25% to a respectable 43%.
Although the Pistons did not make the playoffs, Griffin’s shortened season was a success. Griffin improved his offensive output as he became more comfortable with the scheme and he showed great chemistry with fellow All-Star, Andre Drummond.
If Blake stays healthy, the playoffs should be in sight for the Pistons especially with their upgrade at coach. Current Coach of the Year, Dwayne Casey, has proven to get the most out of his roster and that he has a unique ability in getting everyone to buy into their role. Throughout training camp, Pistons have described the atmosphere as a lot more positive. This change in culture will help the growing Pistons.
This year Griffin is expected to play most of his minutes at power-forward while taking some of the ball-handling duties (especially if Reggie Jackson goes down).
Also, expect Griffin to shoot a lot of three-pointers. Last year, Serge Ibaka averaged the sixth most spot-up attempts in the NBA while playing power-forward under Casey in Toronto.
Defensively, Coach Casey is worried about both his big men, Griffin and Drummond, finishing games together. Casey believes the NBA is going to go smaller than ever thus leaving his bigs susceptible to mismatches on switches. When asked if they will finish games Casey said, “We’ll find out.” Coach Casey explained,
“Blake can definitely play the five (center). We know that,” Casey said. “But Andre having to go out and guard on switches, he can do that, it’s not a mystery. It’s just whether he understands and gets a feel for being out on the floor against a Kevin Love or whoever else is at the five position.”
Griffin himself believes this years team has a high ceiling stating, “Our expectations should be high. In the East, with our roster, I don’t see why getting home court in the playoffs is not a reasonable expectation.” This should be the Pistons aim this season and if they stay healthy, they should be hosting the first ever playoff game at Little Caesars Arena.
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