The 2019-20 NBA season was Blake Griffin’s worst season, statistically speaking. He averaged 15.7 ppg and 4.4 rpg – both career lows in his 11-year NBA career.
If there was one reason for an unsuccessful season for Griffin, health would be considered the main culprit for a less than stellar return from having surgery on his right knee after the 2018-19 NBA season.
Last season Griffin earned his sixth All-Star selection and helped lead the Detroit Pistons to the NBA playoffs. Griffin was already entering the series hampered by his injured knee. But the all-star forward gathered enough grit and will, to compete in the series and gave a valiant effort in a four-game sweep by the Milwaukee Bucks.
After having surgery on his knee, rehabbing and conditioning throughout the following summer, and even missing the first 10 games to start the NBA season, Griffin returned back to the team determined to the make a statement and prove that he is still one of the elite players in this league.
His return to the court on November 11th, 2019, against the Minnesota Timberwolves was one of the more exciting games for the Pistons this season—and one of the better games Griffin played in. He finished that game with 19/7/6 in a loss to Minnesota.
But just to have his presence back on the floor, was something that provided hope, that the team could attain more success as the season carried on.
And within the first month of his returned, he played well. In his first month in his return to the lineup, he averaged a stat-line of 19.7/4.4/3.3/42.9/25.6, while playing roughly 30 minutes a game. Though you could visibly see some rust in his return to play, he was still the same Griffin that the team had become accustomed to seeing.
He helped initiate the offense, set up teammates for easier looks at the basket, scored off the blocks in the post, and got to the free-throw line with regularity.
He did look as if he was a player coming back from a very serious knee injury—but he also still displayed his impressive basketball skills that would warrant the debate of him, arguably, being one of the top 50 best players in the league today.
But be mindful this was only for seven games to start his season…
By the time December had rolled around, Griffin looked visibly different. You could see game-by-game he wasn’t playing like the elite player the team has known for him to be—his gameplay had become inconsistent during that month. He accumulated a stat-line of 12.8/4.4/3.3/29.7/23.5 in 27.5 minutes of play per game for the month of December.
Watching him play, you could tell something was wrong. He didn’t appear as aggressive as he usually was. He moved a bit slower and more gingerly around the court, and often at times settled for too many contested jumpshots.
Even his lift on his jump shot appeared to be a bit flat.
We would all later find out that Griffin was again being plagued by his previously injured right knee. Griffin felt that his injury wasn’t going to get better on it’s own and decided to have in-season surgery on his knee. Thus, ending his season prematurely, after only playing in 18 of the team’s 66 total games played.
Even in a season where 16 of the Piston’s games were canceled by the league due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, for Griffin to play in only 18 games was very disappointing.
Now, upon his return to the court, for the presumable 2020-21 season, Griffin’s status with the team appears to be at a crossroads. He is aging (he turned 31 last March) and is on a financially bloated contract. The team is clearly going through a rebuilding phase and will use this offseason to determine where the future of the organization is heading—and who they would like to be apart of it?
A healthy Blake Griffin is still considered as one of the top players in the NBA today. During the Sage Steele lead podcast, The Encore, the Piston forward said at the 8:30 minute mark, “I feel great,” and “I’ve basically been cleared for a while now, I’ve just been stuck at my house. I’m ready to go whenever things pick back up.”
No timetable has been set yet for Griffin to return, but he seems eager to get back on the court.
Even the mere thought of Griffin returning to the Pistons and being paired up with a developing Christian Wood (granted, if the Pistons can retain his services this offseason during free agency) is something that would excite most Piston’s fans.
Add to the fact that they would be bringing back a healthier Luke Kennard, a more seasoned Sekou Doumbouya, an evolving player in Bruce Brown, and even an aging but healthier and offensively dynamic Derrick Rose (turns 32 in October) back next season.
Plus, potentially a high draft lottery selection, makes the Pistons—a team in a rebuilding phase, seem more intriguing if Griffin is apart of the plans for the future.
Or the organization can choose to do right by Griffin and not want to shackle him to 3-4 year rebuild, and trade him to a contending team in need of his skillset and veteran presence. This (extremely long) offseason for the Pistons will be crucial to Griffin’s status with the team. The moves made during that time could have a ripple affect on Griffin’s time here in Detroit. Let’s hope that whatever moves are made in the upcoming months, are mutually beneficial to not only the team but Griffin’s NBA career as well.